Sunday, 13 August 2017

My bathroom

This week, I had intended to give the flat a really good clean and tidy but I got a little bit distracted by my battered bathroom walls and ended up repainting the room as well. Predictably, it ended up taking me a lot longer than I thought it would to complete. I think I say this a lot, but I often feel quite surprised by the amount of time it takes me to physically do things. Even simple tasks seem to take me forever to do. I don’t know if this is because I am an unusually slow worker or because I seriously underestimate the amount of time I need to allow for each thing, but it is really frustrating. In spite of this, I have to admit that I am a fairly thorough person and truly believe that if a job is worth doing, it is worth doing properly. So time is not always a factor for me.

The walls were already cream, so I simply repainted them the same colour. 

I would have preferred to have painted the walls a stronger colour but my landlord is not really open to this. It isn't really a problem for me as I think it's fairly easy to add colour into a room with accessories anyway. It also keeps things from looking too cluttered, especially as my flat is very small.

I kept my ceiling white, but changed the gloss finish on the door and frame to satinwood as I think this is a bit softer and more modern. 

It seemed very bare without all the clutter which usually lives in here, but it was good to get everything out for a thorough clean. After I'd finished the painting, I decided that I needed some better storage for my towels, so I popped into Argos for this towel rail which also has a shelf.

It seemed a bit flimsy when I took it out of the box, but it screwed together quickly and it is super sturdy once it is fixed to the wall.

I've been storing my spare towels on a shelf in the bedroom so think that this will be a lot better, as all my towels will be handy for when I need them.

I think that it looks quite smart despite being inexpensive. I like that the shiny chrome matches with my taps and shower screen, too.

This wall mounted rail is a lot better than the floor standing rail I had been using and it holds a surprising amount. I feel like my towels will dry a bit better on it. 

I've nearly put everything back in the room but I've tried to avoid too much clutter. I've always loved my bathroom and it was a huge factor in my choosing to rent this flat 6 years ago, so I am really happy that it continues to be a very peaceful space. 

I still have a few jobs to do like putting my robe hanger on to the back of the door and picking up a new toilet roll holder etc. but it is pretty much finished. Apart from getting some nice new towels of course. I haven't quite decided on the colour I'd like for those yet but I am veering towards apple green or orange, which will give a nice splash of colour. 

I have to admit that I am very tired now and think that I need a holiday to recuperate! I also feel overwhelmed by the thought of cleaning the rest of the flat, which has become even more untidy and dirtier than it was this time last week. It looks like I have another busy week ahead! X

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Camper van tote bag and easy needle case pattern

A little while ago I started making a reversible tote bag. I never finished it because I ran out of red thread and kept forgetting to go and buy some more. It was eventually consigned to the drawer where my unfinished projects go to hibernate and sadly, sometimes to die. I suddenly remembered about it last week when I was looking at some fabric online, so it then became a bit of a mission to go and get the thread and to finish it.

I was thinking that there was a lot to do on it but there was actually very little to finish. It was just a case of sewing the two layers together and attaching the handles, which didn’t take very long at all. 

I’m a bit disappointed because there are a few marks where my (fairly new) pins had rusted in the fabric. Perhaps it has been sitting there longer than I thought. I also managed to get a twist in one of my handles, which is super annoying but not sufficiently so that I would unpick it and do it again. 

Sewing is not my first love and I’m always a bit relieved when things come out looking OK. I’m sure no one will notice that the handle is twisted and if they do and it bothers them, they are truly welcome to sort it out for me.

Anyway, when I’d finished, I turned my bag inside out (to admire how reversible it is) and some scraps of the camper van fabric fell out. 

As I had the sewing machine out already, I thought it’d be fun to make something out of it rather than just stuffing it back into the fabric drawer.There wasn’t much to work with though! 

I spontaneously decided that I would make a needle case for my shiny new yarn needles as I’ve managed to lose my yarn needle case (with all my best yarn needles in it) at some point over the last month. I didn’t bother looking online for a pattern and just used my everyday sewing needle case as guide. This one here ↓

It took me ages to figure out how to do it and I’m sure there are simpler ways and easier patterns. But I quite like how it turned out and it’s a good size for when I’m crocheting. 

I like a needle case to be small enough to rest on the arm of the sofa so that I don't use the actual arm as a pin cushion. Which I freely admit to doing sometimes. 

Mine is a bit wonky but it all adds to the charm.

I aren't sure that my sewing is particularly neat either but I'm happy with it. Sewing in a straight line is harder than it looks!

I wrote the pattern up so that I’ll be able to refer back to it if I want to make another one and also so that anyone who likes it can make one too. Happy sewing! x


The size of the finished needle case is approximately:

9.5 x 7 cm when closed and 9.5 x 14 cm when open.

Please note that all sizes are approximate and that my diagrams are (very definitely) not to scale. 


Cut three rectangles in main fabric:

I used a polyester/cotton blend but any light to medium weight fabric would work well. It is not suitable for heavy weight curtain or upholstery fabric.

  • 20 x 16 cm 
  • 16 x 7 cm
  • 8.5 x 7 cm 
One rectangle in coordinating fabric:

This can be anything you like as it is not visible when the needle case is finished. However it is best to use something which coordinates with your main fabric as it may show through if you are using a particularly thin or light coloured main fabric. 
  • 20 x 16 cm
One rectangle of felt:
  • 9 x 7 cm
Matching thread

Loop and Strap fastening.

1. Using the 8.5 x 7 cm piece of fabric, make the loop. 

Fold the fabric in half lengthwise (with wrong sides together) to find the middle. Press lightly. This creates a centre fold line.

Open the fabric back out and using the centre fold as a guide, fold the long sides (with wrong sides together) so that the raw edges meet in the middle. Press.

Fold the short ends over about 1/2 cm and press into place. Trim the corners.

Fold in half lengthwise and press into place. Sew around all four sides and place to one side.

2. Using the 16 x 7 cm piece of fabric, make the strap. 

Fold the fabric in half lengthwise to find the middle. Press lightly. This creates a centre fold line.

Open the fabric back out and using the centre fold as a guide, fold the long sides so that the raw edges meet in the middle. Press.

Fold ONE end over about 1/2 cm and press into place. Trim the corners.

Fold in half lengthwise and press into place. Sew around THREE sides and place to one side.

Assemble the needle case

Fold the 20 x 16 piece of the main fabric in half (with wrong sides together). Press lightly.

Fold in half again.Press lightly, and unfold the fabric.

There will be fold lines which divide the fabric into quarters and which make it easier to see where to sew the loop and strap on.

Sew the loop along it's short edges to attach it to the top left hand quarter of the fabric.

Pin the strap in the bottom right hand quarter of the fabric. The raw edge should overhang the main fabric a little and the rest of the strap should face inwards and across the section.

It should look something like this.

Lay the coordinating 20 x 16 cm piece of fabric over the main fabric and (with right sides together) sew the side seams.

Press the seams open and turn to the right side. 

Fold in half, making sure that the loop is on the inside, and sew the two raw edges together.

Turn to the right side and press.Top stitch around all four sides. 

Turn over and stitch the felt across the middle of the fabric. 

Give it a press and it's ready to use! x

*This is my own pattern and while I’d be thrilled to bits if you used it to make a needle case for yourself, as a gift, for charity or to sell, I’d appreciate it if you would acknowledge me as the author. Please don’t sell the pattern itself.

The permalink for this post is:

© Karen Heppell. All rights reserved.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

My Week

Hello again. How has your week been? Mine has been quite a busy one!

On Sunday I helped EC sort out her little garden as it was very overgrown again. We got the loppers out and cut the pyracantha back first as it had got absolutely huge and was completely obscuring half of the living room window. After we’d sorted that out, we attacked the buddleia. This isn’t really a wanted plant and was actually a windfall which EC never managed to be able to dig out. I’ve had a few attempts at it too but it’s too close to the wall and has a huge trunk. It’s good for the butterflies and bees though, so EC just tries to keep on top of it during the summer. She also cuts it right down to ground level at least twice a year. I have to admit that it always seems a bit brutal but it easily swamps the border and after the flowers begin to fade, it is quite an ugly plant! The honeysuckle also needed a bit of a trim as it had sent long shoots everywhere. I think this is because the trellis needs replacing and it doesn’t have anything to scramble up but EC is going to sort out a replacement soon. We were both a bit tired after this but managed to do a little bit of weeding and tidied up the edge of the border. It looks considerably better.

I think I’m getting too old for manual labour because I was really tired on Monday. I just wanted to lounge around in my pyjamas, eat vegan ice cream and read. I decided this was a bit lazy of me (and vegan ice cream is not on my diet plan) so spent a bit of time sorting out some photos. Apart from the odd one or two I really like, I haven’t printed any photos for a long time and have mostly just popped them onto disc when my laptop is a bit full. I’d ended up with a ridiculous amount of them though, a whopping 3,218. This doesn’t include photos I’ve taken of things I’ve made either! Some of these photos go back as far as 2006, before I had a smart phone and when I used to use an actual camera to take photos. I aren’t sure that I want to print all of my photos so spent a lot of time sorting them into different folders on the laptop and then editing them from there. It was actually a lot more time-consuming than I thought it would be and the whole process overran into Tuesday. I have to admit that by then I was a little bit fed up of sitting at a computer screen cutting, copying and pasting but I plodded on with the editing and have finally whittled them down to about 400.

I think it also took so long because I kept finding little gems which really reminded me about how much time has passed, like these pictures of Oryx as a kitten, in 2006.

Monkey Bear

She was so small when EC brought her home that she could fit in the palm of PDMC's hand.

Monkey Bear

Wasn't she cute?

She could have been a cat model because she is so beautiful.


Here she is in 2017, still adorable.


I find it hard to believe that she is 11 years old sometimes. She often acts like a kitten, clambering up the curtains after moths and chasing around after spiders.


But sometimes we are reminded that she is an old girl who likes her peace and quiet and who gets seriously grumpy if she doesn't get it. A bit like me, really!

As a lot of these photos are quite precious to me I think it would be a good plan to store them on at least one of the online clouds so I also spent a bit of time researching the various options. It’s quite strange because even though I have had accounts with Flickr and Instagram for ages, I’ve never actively used them and if I’m honest I really didn’t have a clue how to either. I blame the kids for leaving home and taking their tech-savvy brains with them. Anyway, I now have a better idea of how to sync things to my chosen clouds and will be able to access my photos at the touch of a button (or fingertip swipe) from now on. I’m going to print some of my photos via Snapfish as well but only when there is a decent offer on. I’m also planning on using my Instagram to post photos related to my blog, but I’ll let you know when I’ve sorted that out and when it’s up and running. I think this will be a better place for me rather than using Facebook or Twitter which I loathe with a passion that surprises even me.

I woke up with a horrible headache on Wednesday and spent much of the day in my pyjamas and in bed. I felt overwhelmingly fed up. All those pictures had made me feel slightly nostalgic and I found myself ruminating over some rather bittersweet memories. This is dangerous territory for me. I was lucky enough to speak to EC later on and this minimised the relentless thoughts, at least sufficiently that I could make myself something to eat and watch a bit of meaningless TV. I decided I needed a change of scene, if only for a day, so I booked myself on a trip to IKEA for the very next morning. I was so excited I could barely sleep. Sometimes I feel embarrassed by my childlike enthusiasm over the smallest things but then I remind myself that it was not so long ago that this excitement manifested as debilitating anxiety. I'm still not always sure which one will surface but I’ll take excited over anxious any day. 

It took just over an hour to get to IKEA (Leeds) and I had about four hours there before the coach headed back. There are plenty of other shops on the retail park but I stuck to Ikea because I wanted to have a good browse at the room sets. It was quite busy as some of the schoolchildren had already broken off school for the summer, but as I wasn’t in any hurry it wasn’t a problem. It was nice to not have to rush around and I even had Veggie balls for lunch in the restaurant. 

There was plenty of luggage space on the coach but I didn’t buy very much as the whole point was to get out of my daily routine, get some home decor ideas and hopefully not spend a fortune in the process.

 I did get these super mobile phone stands though.

I thought that they would be useful to prop my phone on when I'm following an online recipe. 

On Friday I popped into the town centre to have lunch with EC. I was a bit nervous when we met up because she had booked a table for us at Pizza Express and I haven’t been there before. I knew that she had been keen to eat there for a while though, especially as they have recently added a vegan pizza to their menu. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m not a pizza fan at all.  In fact I have pretty much hated pizza for as long as I can remember! But I tried the Vegan Giardinia which was , for pizza, really tasty. Apparently they use rice cheese made by Zillis. 

I am not sure that I would order it again (especially while I’m trying to lose weight) but it didn’t gross me out in the same way pizza ordinarily does. I still don’t understand pizza as a meal though and would probably prefer a bread roll and a bowl of vegetables rather than vegetables splodged on a pizza base! 

Yesterday, EC and I went to Hornsea for the day as it was a market day and the annual Hornsea Carnival. I think the demographic is slightly older here so it’s generally fairly quiet and the pace of life seems slower. It’s got a really peaceful kind of atmosphere which I like, especially when I’ve been struggling with my anxiety or depression. It was raining when we got off the bus which was a bit disappointing but pretty much what we have come to expect. It always rains when we go to the seaside!

We hopped off the bus and headed straight to the beach. Unbelievably, it was completely deserted. The rain really started to come down at this point so we wandered back towards the market. I don’t always mind it being blustery at the beach but I was a bit tired after the journey and just wanted a cuppa and a sit down.

It eased off a bit as we got to the market so we had a good browse round the stalls. It was a lovely walk around and we visited the legend that is Picklin' Rick for some Chili Jam for PDMC. EC picked a pickle (!) for herself too but I really can't remember which one it was. As we were leaving the market, the Carnival Parade came down Newbegin so we paused to watch this before heading off to the pub for a soft drink. We were both quite hungry but I really wanted to head off to Withernsea as I hadn't been there for over 20 years and we had pretty much done everything that we wanted to in Hornsea anyway. 

This was a big mistake. It took us well over an hour to get to Withernsea and although the sun had come out and the journey was quite scenic we were both ravenous and tired. As soon as we arrived, we knew that it wasn't for us. The whole place seemed very dirty, with litter everywhere. There were a lot of inebriated people lounging around on a large grassed area in front of the amusement arcades and there was a club-singer type act performing songs which I think my dad would be too young to remember. As we were so hungry, we ended up having pattie and chips in a local sit-down chippy but it was far from ideal. The tide was in so we weren't able to sit on the beach and as there was very little else to do we decided to wait for the bus to bring us back home. It was really disappointing but we had just had a lovely time in Hornsea and overall that made up for it. 

I hadn't been in very long when PDMC and JA popped round. I haven't seen them since JA's birthday in June, so it was lovely to see them and have a catch up in person. I was also able to give PDMC his Chilli Jam-he has text me today to say that this is really hot and made his nose run, so I am glad we didn't get the fiery hot one now! x

It’d be lovely to hear about how you all spend your free time. Do you like to go to places like IKEA or do you prefer the beach and local markets like we do? I’d love to hear about your favourite places to eat and if you get better luck with the weather than we do. x