Fashion is everywhere

Clones N Clowns by Aimee Wood

Sun in a jar : Blood orange easy marmalade

Have you noticed people walking around like sunflowers at the moment ? People literrally stop in their tracks, turn their heads towards the tiny sun ray that’s just popped out from behind a cloud and close their eyes taking in those long missed UVs ! Thank goodness Spring’s on its way, we’re getting desperate ! To help you activate your sunny disposition mode in the morning – even if you do have to dig your car out of the drive to get to work – today’s recipe is full of sun and as a bonus the fruit I’ve used is currently in season ! See, the cloud‘s aren’t all grey, you just have to know where to look ūüôā Marmalade recipes are ALL OVER the Internet. I mean, those ladies know their stuff… Copper pans,¬†thermometers, muslin… I don’t have any of those ! So although I enjoyed reading up on proper blood orange marmalade, I needed a recipe that was going to get on with my more savage way of cooking – i.e. a recipe that only required a normal pan (Le Creuset, s’il vous pla√ģt !) and a wooden spoon. So I did my usual thing of mashing up the best bits of a few different recipes and Jesus-tap-dancing-Christ it’s delicious ! If you too want to make marmalade without having to go through the boring bits, FOLLOW ME ! YOU WILL NEED : – 5 blood oranges – 2L water – The juice of 1 lemon (none of that bottled stuff, please !) – 400G brown sugar – 350G caster sugar STEP BY STEP : 1 : Do what the photo tells you ! 2 : Leave your oranges to bathe in 1L water for 2 hours. Include the removed ends. I know, it’s long, but according to my calculations reading this is the bit that softens the peels, avoiding it from sticking¬†in between¬†your teeth at breakfast… SO DON’T SKIP IT or you’ll have people laughing at you all day. 3 : Heat the oranges in their bathing water. Add the lemon juice. Simmer and keep adding water as needed so that it doesn’t dry out, stick or worse – burn. After an hour of softening, remove the ends and add the sugar. DO NOT LET IT BOIL. So lower the heat and keep a close watch. Mix with a wooden spoon until the sugar has dissolved. When it’s definitely all gone, turn the heat up and leave to bubble away for another couple of hours, still adding water as needed. When the marmalade is thick and getting sticky, drip a drop on a plate and put it in the fridge for a few minutes. If that drop doesn’t run when you turn the plate sidewards and if the surface of it wrinkles when you push it – you’re done ! You can remove your marmalade from the heat and pour it into sterilized jars. If it’s not quite ready, keep simmering and repeat the test every 15min. 4 : Put the lids on your jars and place in a pan of boiling water for 10min to seal them. I couldn’t wait to try it so had a splatter on toast after lunch. It’s bitter-sweet like it should be and the colour is beautiful (much redder than it appears in the below photo). The brown sugar darkens it so although my oranges weren’t¬†that bloody my jam is pretty dark. I guess I managed to make real marmalade the easy way – yipee ! ‘Night galz ! xx

Sun in a jar : Blood orange easy marmalade

A day in my shoes : Oxford Street and Noel Street

I often receive emails from people asking me where to buy crafts supplies in London… So I guessed you might like to see what my days look like when I go searching for bits and bobs for my DIY projects. Today I spent the afternoon on Oxford Street and Noel Street, ideal places to stock up ! I generally work on a day to day basis… I do¬†try to get more organised but I can’t help it, inspiration hits me at precisely 8AM each day and until that time who knows what my day will be like ! So when I get my daily idea I only have a few hours ahead of me to get crafty, take photos and post the project on my blog. I love working like this, every day is a new challenge (we’ll be talking about “challenges” again on Friday… stay tuned !). I do manage to work in advance when the project’s more than a regular post but when I get a call from a huge French magazine offering me a page in their Summer edition if I’m able to hand a project in in just a couple of days… I’m grateful I’m used to pressure ! So with this great opportunity in mind, I headed off to find the necessary supplies in Central London… And so my story begins. Once upon a time, there was a double decker bus. Number 73, to be precise. My favorite bus because it takes me from my favorite place in London to one of the places I need most ! I love living in Stoke Newington, it’s so crafty and trendy… I would proudly wear an “I <3 Stokey” tee-shirt if it came to it. But this short paragraph is not enough to explain why I love my local area so much, I’ll have to introduce you to it properly some time soon ! So I got on bus number 73 which took me to Oxford Street in just under 45 minutes, the perfect amount of time for me to get myself organised by writing today’s To Do List. Oh, and I also took a few secs to post pics to¬†Instagram, that’s what bloggers do, right ?! ūüėČ As usual, I missed my stop on Oxford Street. Honestly, I do this¬†every time. I end up bashing the red button a million times but the driver nevers gives in, not even when I’m wearing my favorite lipstick. So unfortunately, I¬†got off the bus right in front of Topshop… and obviously had to go in. I didn’t actually stay for that long and most of all I was SUPER GOOD because I didn’t spend a penny. But while I’m on the topic may I just say I truly believe I could live in this store if I didn’t need day light : clothes, accessories, cupcakes, manucures, coffee, millions of shoes and even a hairdressers… What more can a girl wish for, eh ? After Topshop, I entered a few other well known shops on the same road, this time frantically looking for the item of clothing I needed to customise for the article. Yep, I was told exactly the garment I had to find so the search was ON ! Naturally, I turned to my regular trio : H&M, PRIMARK and UNIQLO. These three shops usually answer my prayers, their clothes are basic enough to take a good DIY and the prices are low. When I’m looking to work on something of better quality I go to AMERICAN APPAREL, PETIT BATEAU, GAP or COS, but because of the number of DIY projects I work on each month I try to keep these sprees to the minimum. Unfortunately my fav’s didn’t have what I needed today (typical !) but I did hang around a short while checking out their new collections and I can tell you now : Spring’s looking good ! Obvious upcoming trends include black and white (yipee – this week’s fashion DIY is bang on !), a lot of neon-pastels (pastels with attitude !) and believe it or not LOTS of Do It Yourself looking clothes… Isn’t it weird the way mass production is getting into homemade looking products… The world’s spinning backwards (: Luckily I finally found what I needed in NEW LOOK so all I needed now were the acual crafts supplies ! I knew exactly where to go for these so I trotted off to a road just 5 minutes away from Oxford Street… Noel Street is very popular amongst fashion students and designers… as well as DIYers ! I had two shops in mind already, you have to know where you’re going in this city ! NEW TRIMMINGS and KLEINS – two stores FULL of incredible stock. NEW TRIMMINGS¬†is at N¬į 22 and I have wanted to paint a new ‘N’ on their sign for-like-ever ! This popular shop doesn’t seem to need to dress up fancy to find success, people go because they know it has such an amazing range of products. You can find hundreds of different ribbons and trimmings (surprise, surprise !) as well as feathers, colourful rhinestones, chains and more. Everything’s piled up so you want to make sure you spend a good amount of time in there or you might miss something precious ! On the $$$ side, I’d say the pricing is reasonable – you can probably […]

A day in my shoes : Oxford Street and Noel Street

DIY beauty : 5 ways to use coconut oil

When browsing my local store recently, I came across a massive pot of coconut oil. I was surprised to find it there because I thought you usually would find coconut oil in more glamourous, health savvy shops – this was just the corner store I buy late night Haagen-Dazs from. Anyway, I underestimated eastern cuisine because according to the Turkish salesman it is often used in place of other oils – so healthy ! For a long time, I used coconut oil for cooking, too. I stopped cooking with olive oil after hearing it was cancerogenic and didn’t like to use other oils because of their stronger taste. Coconut oil was the perfect solution : it melts in seconds, cooks lighter healthier food and only has a subtle taste. I don’t know why I stopped using coconut oil to cook, I just ran out and never topped up…!¬†So naturally when I saw the great big pot (for only ¬£2.19 !) at the corner store, I grabbed it and shoved it in my basket. Healthy cooking, here I am again ! Cooking is not all coconut oil is good for – I have used it on my body before too. In fact I would often combine the two, rubbing oil into my hands to give them a deep moisturize at the same time as plonking some in the pan… I just love the way it melts in a split second on contact with your skin, it’s almost fun to watch ! So I thought I would explore a little more now coconut oil and I are back in touch. I feel that including more of it in my beauty routine would be a healthy and economic choice as well as home-spa bliss ! These five DIY beauty recipes take no time to prepare and only need very basic ingredients – in fact, often no more than just coconut oil. I hope you get to try them out at home, I can¬†guarantee¬†your skin and hair will benefit from regular use ! THE PERFECT LIP BALM All you need is coconut oil and a small pot to carry around with you. Coconut oil is the ideal lip balm : it will stay hard in the pot but will melt into a smooth oil as soon as you dip in your fingertip. Keep a pot in your coat pocket at all times and spread on throughout the day for¬†luscious¬†lips. Bonus : It even tastes good ! SMOOTH HAND CREAM For this recipe you will need 50% coconut oil and 50% beeswax. Melt down your beeswax in a plastic pot over boiling water. Towards the end, add in your coconut oil. Mix the two together and pour into a small pot. Scoop up and rub into dry hands for a hydrating treatment. Home Sweet Home : Leave a pot next to the tap so that you remind yourself to hydrate on a regular basis after washing your hands ! WHIPPED BODY BUTTER Whip your coconut oil with an electric bleneder. Adding air to the oil makes it light and silky making a softer cream to use so that you can just scoop it up and splat it on ! This is my favorite one of the 5 ūüôā NOURISHING HAIR OIL Use coconut oil in the same way you would argan oil or shop bought hair oil. I like to rub a decent amount into my scalp a couple of hours before washing my hair (sexy, I know). This literally feeds the hair, thickening it and strengthening it at the roots. I also automatically rub oil between my hands and onto the tips of my hair after drying it – this smoothes it and help repair and avoid split ends. Warning : Make sure you don’t use more than a tiny drop of oil, you don’t to go out with greasy hair no matter how healthy it is ! NATURAL MAKE-UP REMOVER Melt down your oil on low heat. Remove from heat and add in almond oil or baby oil (use 75% coconut oil and 25% almond/baby oil). Pour the mix into a pot and leave to set. To remove your make-up at night, simply scoop up a small amount of remover, melt between your fingertips and spread over your eyes and face. Massage your face, softly rubbing in that oil. Now wash your face or use cotton wool to remove your make-up. Psssst – You can use the same oil again to¬†moisturize. And so that’s the story of how I got a home spa for just ¬£2.19 ! xx

DIY beauty : 5 ways to use coconut oil

Cocktail recipe : Mango and lychee mashup

One of my best buys yet this year is my brand new cocktail shaker… I’m dying to get arty with it ! This little experiment turned out great – a light and sweet cocktail you could serve at a party or even a wedding. It tastes great with the lychee juice chilled and you can even pop your glasses in the freezer for 10min before serving too – they’ll frost up a little and look snazzy ! I chose to keep the ice cubes whole rather than crush them because the cocktail is thick enough with the puree.¬†If you don’t have a blender to make mango puree I’m guessing you could probably use mango juice although you won’t get the same consistency. In this case maybe using crushed ice would be the right solution. Here goes the how to :I reckon this needs trying with coconut water in place of the lychee and rum instead of the vodka, too ! A bit like a pina colada remake. All these exotic tastes definitely¬†have me longing for the sun to come out… Have a wonderful week-end and thanks for stopping by ūüôā xx  

Cocktail recipe : Mango and lychee mashup

Heartbeats and polka dots

I promised to show you how I have been styling my DIY heartbeat tee-shirt – here it is ! Mixied prints, bright red and a trio of neutrals… This lippy is my all-time fav’ by Guerlain (Rouge G) – believe it or not I have hardly any on ! It is so bright it’s unbelievable !¬†Even though I work at home alone, I like to wear bright lipstick on a regular basis… It’s my way of saying I’ll make an effort even for myself ! I love a pop of colour on my smile¬†‚ô•   Jacket : Helene Berman Heartbeat Tee-shirt : DIY, catch up here Shorts : Zara Tights : Gambettes box ¬†Boots : Mum’s ūüôā Headband : Primark xx

Heartbeats and polka dots

Trendspotting : Emerald green from ScoopNYC

“Lively. Radiant. Lush… A colour of elegance and beauty that enhances our sense of well-being, balance and harmony.” Pantone So Pantone have predicted Emerald Green will be the colour of 2013… That’s fine with me ! I love its depth and luxurious implication. Emerald green makes me want to look glamourous (unless of course I’m watching The WIzard of Oz or better more Wicked in which case – witch case – it just makes me want to run around singing my head off). Either way, I think it’s much nicer than the military khaki¬†greens we’ve been seeing and can’t wait to add a large amount to my wardrobe this Spring. When trying out a new trend, I like to have a bit of an online practice first. I have many a moodboard inspired by new trends and I’ll look back at them from time to time to see if I really want to take the leap or not. Sometimes the trend turns into something more and at that point I go for it. If after a few looks I have already gone off it, I move on. This way I don’t end up buying loads of things I don’t really like just because they’re fashionable. I’m already pretty sure I’m going to love wearing emerald green but after being introduced to Scoop NYC, a website chockablock with trendy clothes, I thought I’d have a poke around to see how the trend is developing at this early stage of the new season. After a good window shop (surely we should call it a “macbook shop” these days ?!), here’s a selection of the emerald items I like best : I’d definitely pair the green tops with a blue print and wear the dresses with bright shoes. I think the button-down would be more of an everyday piece, I love wearing flannel shirts for work, they’re comfortable and stylish all in one ! Here are the links to the above products, so that you can get a closer look : – Shirt by NSF (top left) – Top by Mason (top middle) – Dress by Sea (top right) – Top by Splendid (bottom left) – Dress by Sea (bottom middle) – Top by Scoop (bottom right) How will you be wearing green this year ? xx      

Trendspotting : Emerald green from ScoopNYC

Stress VS Creativity

Stress…. Probably one of the world’s biggest enemies these days and definitely one of mine. When I started this blog I promised myself it would be 100% fun. However, like any project you decide to take seriously and put all your energy into, there has been times when it has not been easy to keep that promise. Everybody gets stressed from time to time and learning to deal with your stress is an important lesson to learn. Some of us figure it out pretty quickly, some of us learn the hard way. If you need a good reason to get your head around it, hear this : YOU’RE NOT GOING TO BE AS CREATIVE AS YOU COULD BE IF YOU’RE TOO STRESSED. Have you ever felt like you used to be creative but just don’t seem to be able to come up with good ideas any more ? Have you ever been unable to think up a nice personal gift or quirky card whereas you used to be so good at it ? Have you ever wondered where your passion for painting, drawing, sewing or cooking has gone ? If so, I bet you have a lot of other things on your mind. ROUND 1 : CREATIVITY NEEDS SPACE TO GROW Creativity can be needy. If you’re ready to give it full attention, you’ll get on fine. When you’re in good terms with your creative side, you may even perceive the world around you in a more arty way and are probably more open to new ideas. Those ideas will pop up day and night and you’ll be on a crafty role ! I find I’m more creative at the beginning of the week than at the end, for instance, probably because I’ve just had a relaxing week-end and am raring to go. I also find that when I go on holiday, I tend to switch off for the first few days and then all of a sudden, towards the end, I need to get writing all my new projects down because there are too many to remember ! When you’re in a relaxed state of mind, creativity can express itself fully and interact with you instead of feeling you’re too busy to pay any attention to it. However, if other feelings start to take over your brain power and you leave creativity to one side, it’s is not going to like it… ROUND 2 : STRESS ATTACKS CREATIVITY, CREATIVITY GOES ON STRIKE If your mind is full of other things – and remember they say that¬†excitement¬†and “good stress” is as bad as the rest – then you probably won’t be able to get the most out of yourself on the creative front. I have found my best ideas come about when I feel cool and confident. Other times when I’m feeling rushed or down, the ideas I come up with just don’t turn out as well. Maybe the idea isn’t that great in the first place or maybe I can’t carry it out as well as I could if was in a better place. It can be difficult to avoid other things in your life which are taking up space in your head and stealing the lime light from more creative activities. Call it what you will : duty, responsibility, EVERYDAY LIFE – not to mention worry if you have more serious things on your plate. Even those of you who are talented enough to make a living from your creativity, I’m sure there are days you feel too preoccupied by other things to come up with new ideas or keep that project looking good. And it’s not¬†just the fact you have other things on your mind. It’s the NEGATIVITY these other things are spreading inside your body and mind. When you get into a downwards spiral of¬†vulnerability, you end up using the word CAN’T (and its friends) way too often… “Can’t do this”, “can’t do that”, “doesn’t look good”, “won’t look good” etc. Nothing’s going to turn out right if you don’t give it a chance ! And if you don’t sort out the real problem, no amount of begging is going to help : Inspiration disappears the more you go looking for it, like a distant dream you can’t quite grasp… If however you recognize the stress that’s causing you to lose your inspiration, or USE that stress AS inspiration, you’ll find it a lot easier to help yourself. ROUND 3 : CREATIVITY’S REVENGE Getting rid of stress can be like untangling headphones… You can go for weeks on end without sorting it out because it seems like such a mess ! But when it’s done you feel so much better and inevitably think “it wasn’t that hard after all”.¬†Sometimes all it needs is a pull on one end of the string and the knot’s undone. So where to start ? Remember inspiration hits you when you least expect it (just like love!). So go out, see places, meet people. I know all this sounds typical but it works for me every time. I post quite a few creative projects each week on Clones ‘n’ Clowns so I’ve had to find ways to stop that “writer’s block”. If something’s in the way of creativity, I can’t just hang around until it decides to sort itself out. I have to sort myself out, let go of the negative […]

Stress VS Creativity

DIY Epaulettes

After the cake pops episode, may I present you the DIY epaulettes episode ! This was project was just about as messy – I don’t know what’s wrong with me ! I got glue all over whilst trying to figure out which type was best to use for these materials. I felt like I was back at creche when the aim of the game was to get as much on yourself and as little on your paper as possible haha Anyway, it was all for a good cause because I have finally come up with a pretty cool DIY tutorial to share with you guys ! I think I’m going to start calling myself a searcher – I should get paid by the state for all the creative research I do so that projects turn out just right ! Epaulettes seem to be on the rise – I have come across this pair again and again over the past few weeks – it keeps popping up on those adverts that change according to the items you’ve recently looked at (hate those things!). Epaulettes are perfect for adding a personal touch to a smart jacket but also the ideal choice for dressing up a basic tee. All you have to do to make your own is grab youself the below supplies and follow the video ! To make your own DIY Epaulettes, YOU WILL NEED… – Faux leather – A glass – Scissors – Glue (haha – but which ??! I suggest using SEE THROUGH jewelry glue) – 6 x 20cm of fine, light chain – Stones / gems / rhinestones / beads of your choice – 4 big safety pins (2 per epaulette) – Flat nose pliers So… AFTER ALL THAT : it all turned out to be simple enough, eh ?! Right, I’m going to try another Jamie Oliver 15 minutes recipe…¬†Have a lovely evening ! xx

DIY Epaulettes

The adventures of making Ferrero Rocher cake pops !

If you’re follwing Clones ‘n’ Clowns on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you’ll know already that I had a “fun” time making cake pops last week… For those of you who do not follow me on those platforms, the truth is it was one great MESS (and by the way, get following!). Yes I tried making cake pops for the first time ever and even though they turned out to be amazing balls of deliciousness, I had my doubts. First of all, I’d like to admit I used a cake pop mould to make these. This is partly because I thought the process would be easier but also because I like the idea of the pop being just cake rather than it being cake crumbs held together with icing. That just sounds too sweet to me. So I bought myself a bright pink tray and followed the instructions on that to start off. So far, so good. The recipe was easy enough to follow and when the cakes came out I was super proud and on my way to the perfect pops. Little did I know… The worst was yet to come ! I made the cakes on Wednesday and decorated them on Thursday, keeping them in a sealed container in between. So, when I got up on Thrusday to coat those cakes in chocolate heaven, I was more than ready to spend enough time on them to make them perfect. I had decided to make them Ferrero Rocher style, which meant coating them in crushed hazelnut and bashed wafer mixed with melted Nutella. Yum. It all sounded great, but : WHAT ON EARTH DO YOU DO WITH DRIPPING CAKE POPS WHEN YOU WANT THEM TO SET ??! I couldn’t keep holding them upside down because A/ I had other things to do and B/ all the Nutella was dripping off defeating the point… However I couldn’t put them in the stand I had thoughtfully planned out because the Nutella was dripping down the stick ! Oh dear… To give you a better idea, this is what it ended up looking like. Oops ! However, I was determined these cake pops would turn out OK. I’m not like those amazing bloggers who try their hardest again and again to get the perfect crumb or the ideal shine on the icing – I just want Ferrero Rocher cake pops to turn out right from try one ! So I came up with a solution : I had originally planned to wait until the 1st layer had dried before dipping into the dark choc but I would have to change plan and dip the cake pops into the dark chocolate straight after dipping them in the Nutella. So I did. And it worked ūüôā As soon as I had dipped the Nutella covered cake pops into the warm dark chocolate they were OK to stand up. The dark chocolate was setting quickly, keeping the rest locked up ! I could then place the stand of cake pops in the fridge until all the layers of coating were set and they were ready to serve. Phew ! So the Ferrero Rocher Cake Pops were only a minor catastrophe and actually I think I’d do them again now I have the correct method. The taste is SO good and they look rocky like real Ferreros too ! TO TRY IT OUT YOURSELF (let me know how it goes !), YOU WILL NEED : – A silicon cake pop tray // lollipop sticks // 110g sugar // 110g flour // 110g¬†margarine¬†// 3 eggs // 1 heaped tbs of cocoa powder // 1 small pot¬†Nutella¬†// 1 bar of dark cooking chocolate // 1 handful of hazelnuts, crushed // 1 handfull of wafer biscuits, smashed 1 : Whisk the sugar, flour,¬†margarine, cocoa¬†and eggs together and pour into half the mould, cover with other half and bake for 20min at 180¬įC). Leave to cool. 2 : Melt the Nutella and dark chocolate seperately. 3 : Mix the hazelnuts and wafer into the Nutella. 4 : Dip each stick into the dark choc (just 1cm) before poking it into a cake pop. Leave to set (10min in freezer does it). 5 : Place your chocolate dips side by side and coat each cake pop in the Nutella, hazelnut and wafer dip before coating straight away in dark chocolate. You can use a spoon to help if you like. Make sure the dark chocolate is only a thin layer. 6 : Spin each cake pop a few times to make sure the right amount of chocolate is on it and place the cake pops on a stand and in the fridge to set. 7 : Take a deep breath and wash up ! xx

The adventures of making Ferrero Rocher cake pops !

Don’t wish Winter away just yet…

I’ve got my first bunch of daffodils on my table and I’m realising I haven’t seen the sun in yonks… Let’s get this straight : I don’t like to spend hours in the sun. I may have spent half my life in France and NO I DON’T GO RED AS SOON AS I GO OUTSIDE like those cheeky French friends of mine like to think, but I don’t wish for¬†heat-waves¬†all year round like they do. I love Winter. I love rain and early evenings too. I don’t mind it when it looks like its midnight outside but the clock says 3pm, I just feel like I have extra time ahead. But… For the first time ever, I have to admit, I WANT SPRING. I really do. Being back in the UK for a whole year has made me remember how long Winter time is over here and I’m longing for a soft breeze rather than a chilly draft and actually can’t wait for my pasty skin to be invaded by freckles ! But (number two)… Before I get too involved in sunny days, I just want to check I’ve made the most of the cold months. I know I tend to look forward to things all the time which is great but WHAT ABOUT NOW ? This is something I’m trying to learn and so before I go wishing for Spring I’d like to make sure I’m properly done with Winter ! So I thought why not check it out with you, right here, right now… Below is the list of things I wanted to make sure I did this Winter. You know how I love a good to do list ! So let’s see how I’ve done… And if it’s really badly, let’s say I have until Spring to makes things look better. You can only refuse a hot choccy for your diet’s sake so many times before realising you’ve gone the whole season without one ! And we can’t have that ! Right… I can tell you now I haven’t done everything on that list ! I have once again failed to meet Johnny (aka long haired wanderer) and damn that makes 25 years running… Also, who in their right mind goes swimming in Winter ? Brrrr…. Anyway, here’s what the list looks like after I’ve crossed things off (a pink line means its done, a partial pink line means part of it’s accomplished and no line means its still to be done…) : Not bad but there are a few things I’m going to have to catch up with before Spring kicks in full time ! I can’t believe I spent 2 weeks in Canada and didn’t even make a cool snowman… It’s a good job I’m going to the Alps 1st week in March : I’m going to be able to learn to snowboard whilst eating cheese with one hand and making a snowman with the other ! I should be almost done by March 20th… Winter, you may go ! xx

Don’t wish Winter away just yet…