Christmas Light Fantastic



Batman and Robin : A Wintery Cartoon by Zebedee Helm

robin & batman 2


If you like this you’ll also enjoy Zebedee’s new book – The Middle Class ABC

My creative Christmas….thanks to Hobbycraft

When it comes to arts and crafts and handmade, homemade things, I don’t claim to be terribly good or hugely inventive. In the past Ive tried to follow in the steps of Kirsty and Martha and attempt all kinds of wonderful (expensive) creations which generally don’t work out the way I’d hoped and are not suited to someone with very little patience. I like things to be done quickly and with little effort but I also enjoy the satisfaction of having made or created something myself. Those things don’t often go hand in hand. This Christmas, however, I have surprised even myself with some of my handy work but for the most part, it is all thanks to the fabulous emporium which is Hobbycraft.

If the idea of sewing and gluing and stapling and baking and primping and ribboning (if that’s a  word) leaves you cold, then look away now. But if you have even the smallest desire to create some Christmas decorating cheer with your very own hands, then carry on reading.




So firstly, my bird and star tree decorations. The basic plain bird / star cost just 99p each from Hobbycraft, the bag of pom poms cost me £1.99 on Etsy…but you can get them in Hobbycraft too I’m sure. I rather liked them plain but my 4 year old complained that they didnt have wings and so I set about with some pom poms and fabric glue (Hobbycraft) and there we go, wings (sort of). The stars were a basic 5 point pom pom affair. They’ve been hanging for over a week now and knocked around by cats and children and still the poms stay put. And they took about 10 minutes to do whilst drinking a glass of wine. You see, easy AND enjoyable.




The orange slices were done on a whim when I saw 3 lonely looking oranges in the fruit bowl who weren’t going anywhere. So I sliced them, lay them directly on the oven shelf and baked them for an hour or so on a medium setting. Or just until they looked dry and Christmassy. At the moment I have most of them in a jar waiting patiently for a good idea and I put a few around a candle with some pine cones collected from the park. It’s quite a sophisticated arrangement for me but it makes me feel grown up. I shall use the rest as part of a holly wreath for the door or perhaps add them to a garland of pine cones or I might just open the jar from time to time and smell them. They make me feel strangely proud. It’s Pomanders next, just as soon as I work out exactly what they are.






And then to the crackers. £3.99 for a pack of 6. All you have to do is roll them (the “bang” is prefixed to the card), put in the hat and joke provided, a present of your choice and ribbon them up. I put a chocolate coin in each which makes for a perfectly satisfactory rattle.




So far so good. I may attempt more as the days go on or I may just sit back and see how long it takes until the kids rip off the pom poms and raid the crackers. Christmas is for the children after all.

Sounds of the school run

Over the past couple of years my now 4 year old has chosen the soundtrack to the school run. At 2 and a half he favoured Gorillaz, then he moved on to The Black Ghosts and for the past year or so we’ve had The Beastie Boys.

This week marks the last few days of nursery school life before he starts Primary in January. He’s fine, I’m all emotional and silly, so this post is for him. It’s been a pretty great few years musically. I love you Cash, you rock.

Gorillaz : Stylo

Gorillaz : On Melancholy Hill

The Black Ghosts : Any Way You Choose To Give It

The Black Ghosts : Some Way Through This

The Beastie Boys : Song For The Man

The Beastie Boys : Body Movin


Absolutely Nothing To Make – Peony Pom Poms by Samantha Taylor

I first published this wonderful post by Sam Taylor last year and Peony Pom Poms have become a permanent installation in our home ever since. I’ve been asked lots recently about whether it’s best to make them from scratch or buy them ready cut. I’d say from scratch as it’s the much cheaper option and incredibly satisfying. It also means you can be a bit more creative with your choice of tissue colours. I’m thinking about trying stripey pom poms this year – will report back if they work.

So here it is, the foolproof guide to Peony Pom Poms. Beware, they’re very addictive……

I came late to the pom pom party. In fact had I not been drooling regularly over kids’ room tours on ohdeedoh and various style blogs, they may yet have passed me by. But slowly I noticed these ethereal tissue paper bundles floating in some very chic nurseries and once I’d ascertained exactly what they were, and how to get them, I was on a mission.  It seems that i’ve missed a trick because they have, in fact, become something of a phenomenon in crafty circles since their ‘invention’ by Martha Stewart some time around 2006. Whether or not this is entirely true, Her Royal Homeliness does have a knack for taking a craft trend and giving it a contemporary spin and if the images on the MS website don’t tempt you then you will probably never be a convert (you can buy them via the MSL Amazon store here)

They’re surprisingly easy to make too. You can follow her little tutorial here:

You need a pack of tissue paper (12 sheets should give you nice full poms), some florist’s wire and monofilament or ribbon to hang.

1. Stack your tissue. Fold the tissue, accordion style, in 1 1/2″ wide folds, creasing the folds.
2. Fold a length of florist’s wire in half. Slip over middle of folded tissue, twist. Trim the ends of the tissue (rounded or pointed depending on preference).
3. Turn on side and pull a layer at a time up and out, pulling away from centre.
4. Tie monofilament to wire for hanging

Of course,  I realise any DIY bride, party and wedding planner worth their salt can whip up a roomful of these frothy little beauties blindfolded, but I wanted a more permanent reason to use them. So, as I’m a sucker for anything that will give the decor in my blah rented apartment in Hong Kong a bit of oomph without a) spending too much and b) infuriating the landlord, I determined that I needed to work them in to my own home. Hubby quickly vetoed any area he uses regularly (‘but surely they would look more masculine in monochrome shades?!’) So that left the kids’ rooms and the perfect opportunity to indulge my pom pom fixation, because they are both still at the age where MUMMY DEAREST KNOWS BEST mwah ha ha. So the baby (boy) got the pom poms and all my husband could say to the contrary was “you DO know he’s a boy, right?”. Pah.

Here they are in situ:

I realise my primping leaves a lot to be desired but this would be a pretty dull corner of the room without the poms don’t you think? Not too girly?

More pom pom loveliness (not mine by the way):


There are plenty of online stores devoted to poms (try Etsy) and many have a wide selection of sizes and colours and you generally choose between rounded or pointed petal ends. The more layers of tissue, the fuller your finished poms. They come folded and ‘unbloomed’ with wire, or ribbon, for hanging. It will probably take you a tad longer than you expect to get the knack (my tip: don’t pull too gently, be confident – fast and random is better) but I can assure you; a fully bloomed and primped pom pom is a very, VERY satisfying thing to behold. Just beware of primp fever. Once you start, it’s really very difficult to stop.

I purchased my Pom Poms from I Have Ribbon (U.S) Visit their Etsy store here (they ship internationally).

Check out this great little ‘pom blooming’ tutorial on You Tube from Paperwhite Pom-Poms.

So that was Movember….

I’ve never taken such a long break from ANTW but there has been a very good reason. This year Lucky Seven Caps – our hat company – partnered the incredible charity which is Movember.

We have spent the last 6 weeks or so in the midst of a wonderful, inspiring, pioneering and unbelievably fun group of people who it has been a pleasure to know. The work they do is nothing short of amazing and we are very proud to have been able to do our little bit to raise awareness and crown some Mo Bros.

And while Jay Jay was growing a Mo and running a very busy hat making studio, I made a little film which tells the story in 1 minute of when Lucky Seven met Movember.



Can’t wait for next year. I just need about 12 months or so to recover.