Just about bordering on odd, I see things through different eyes.The heading says it all - I live, I love, I craft, I am me...


New Year wish

 To all my lovely friends, family and blogging readers - 2022 again has been a turbulent year and I can only surmise that 2023 will probably continue in the same vein, we are not through the 'new normal' just yet and equally we need to adapt and survive. We need to amend what we have done and are still doing - our impact on our world is not a positive one. If we all made a tiny change, each and everyone of us, they would all add up to a wonderful step forward....

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness.

I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're WONDERFUL

and don't forget to make some art (write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can)

And somewhere in the next year

I hope 

you surprise yourself 

(Neil Gaiman)

Happy and kind and gentle New Year to us all



Winter winds blow

With heavy fast moving rain forecast and winds lashing the trees back and forth it seemed a 'good time' to go for a walk .... said Moss...... and we (strangely) agreed.

Wrapped up well - to the point on waddling not walking and finding it almost impossible to bend, we set off. Down the main road through the village, past the fairy light encrusted Christmas tree outside of the community centre, turning right up dead duck hill (double quick puff) then right again up a small track towards a cluster of houses. Although we know it is a bit early in the season - we are on the watch out for lambs. We know that they have started to appear.

Round the goose-field to the rec. Moss races the wind as she chases her frizbee, hurtling along the grass at breakneck speed. Following the far edge, we stepped back out of the grounds, across puddle lane and into the sheep filled souterills. Moss threw herself into the winter 'lake' and steamed herself cool again, willing us to let her off her lead, but with hugely pregnant ewes watching warily - her request was refused.

We walk through the upper souterill field making a slight detour past the Highland coo field - checking for calves, they appear soon after Christmas, large fluffy teddy bear beasties hunkering down in the moorland grasses while their mothers watch carefully through thick and wind tousled fringes.

Then down the lane to the nature reserve, still one eye out for lambs and now hares. I can hear the tinkling of the windchimes as we pass chicken accident quarry. Then we leave the lane and turn left up the Ferndene, skipping puddles and dodging flooded paths, past Sagar's Lake, the meadow, the picnic grounds, play park and then back on to the road. A sneaky turn right onto David's walk then home following the main road into the village.

Our walks are are memory maps, with names from village history or from our own stories. Some from when the boys were little and found it difficult to describe where they were, some are anecdotal tales from friends and others associated with events that occurred. All very personal to us yet instantly recognisable to others.

Home now, we managed to avoid the rain but we feel wind battered. So with lunch consumed and mugs of tea being cradled in fingers, we can hear the wind howling around the house and calling down the chimney - but we don't mind. It is all part of the season, the place we live and our lives.


Twixmas - a bit of this, a bit of that

After a few family filled days, at this moment, it is just myself and a mug of tea. The house is remarkably still and restful with just the hint sound trailing from the radio as it cheerfully plays hits from 2008. The overly youthful DJ announcing that she was only seven when these 'oldie-but goldie' tunes came out - what on earth is she talking about?? - it was only 'yesterday'! Gah - what does she know! 

What I do know is that this year gifts were definitely more thoughtful, more considerate.Something else I know, we quaffed countless mugs of tea - teas of all flavours with many differing varieties of milk. Keeps me on my toes - making sure everyone has the correct combination.

I find at this time of year - the kitchen becomes the engine room of the house, churning out not only meals for hungry tums, but festive treats and bakes too. I've tried a couple of new to me recipes (inspired by the unreachable perfection of instagram) but will need to practice/improve/give up/admit defeat πŸ˜†πŸ˜†. 

The weather has been rather predictably rubbish - that pristine but brittle cold blue sky slid into a driech grey wet blanket with on off miserable rain. It does make hunkering down by the fire rather enticing while dog walks are more a feat of endurance that a pleasure. We have had a couple of gently splendid soft grey and peach sunsets sprinkled liberally with hail - they were bracingly joyful made all that much better by returning home and putting the kettle on with mincepies and ginger biscuits calling out to be eaten.

We will have a couple of days to ourselves, Himself and I, while the boys spend time with their extended families and although a walk or two has been discussed - the weather, once again - will feature somewhat!

There is something about this time of year - it makes me restless - I feel the need for an adventure, not quite on the level that Bilbo Baggins undertook however - I can feel that need rising.  

Do you get that stirring of restlessness or (if you are in the northern hemisphere) happy to hibernate?

 And one last image - a fuzzy-zoomy photo of Moss as we performed a double quick march to get home before the hail shower pinged our respective noses even more!



Yuletide love and blessings


May your next few days be filled with love
and your life be blessed with new opportunities to grow and flourish,
let next year be brimming with positivity and love ❤️❄️☀️

Yuletide blessings and love xx


Something to get your teeth intoπŸͺ❄️πŸŽ„

On Thursday - the only day we all had time spare - we baked our marathon-relay-tag-team gingerbread festive biscuits. Making sure we had enough to share and to scoff, there was a lot of rolling and cutting and cooking. 

Whilst we were waiting for the biscuits to dry, Moss took us for a quick dog-loop before the weather closed in
Once we'd returned there was a bit of a mini panic when I could not find my icing kit, so Himself and I galloped off to purchase a replacement icing nozzle set (which in the end meant going to five (yes 5) different shops until we eventually found enough to get started.

It could be said we had fun! We now have aliens, snowmen, gold and silver stars, festive trees and pigs ... yes pigs!

Despite all the 'taste testing' and 'pre-icing nibbling' we still managed to fill three jars - perfect for sharing😊πŸͺ

And if you fancy a mad marathon baking sesh of the gingerbread kind - here is the recipe....

350g (12oz) self raising flour
10ml (2 tsp) ground ginger *
100g (4oz) butter
175g (6oz) light brown sugar
60ml (4 tblsp) golden syrup
1 egg - beaten

sift flour and ginger*, add sugar.
Soften butter in the microwave, stir in the syrup then add the egg - mix well

knead til smooth, roll out to about 5mm (¼ inch) thick. Choose your favourite seasonal cutters and have fun!
Lay on to baking trays (either greased or lined)
Bake at 190°c  (375°f) for about 10 - 15 mins until golden.
Cool slightly then finish on a wire track

Decorate to your heart's content and scoff!

* I doubled the ginger, added mixed spice and then for good measure a pinch of ground cloves - I wanted a very festive hit in each biscuit!

They don't last long...


Wreath makingπŸŽ„

During the first weekend of December we gathered around newspaper covered tables and we crafted many wreaths.  For ourselves, for friends, for colleagues and for family. 
Food was shared and there was so much - the table groaned beneath plates and despite our best efforts, the left overs were shared out and sent home to be eaten later.
By the end of a wonderful day of cutting, snipping, chatting, eating, tying and tweaking, between the ten of us we had made 15 wreaths.  Our home smelt gloriously of wood and pine - quite heady and spicy.

Then, later, once our guests had gone, the house quiet, left over foliage and fripperies put away we cradled mugs of tea and toasted our toes in front of the fire.
It had been a good day, a very good day, made the more special as we'd not been able to celebrate wreath making for the previous two years and it was wonderful being able share food and friendship once again ❤️❄️πŸŽ„


Holly & Happy

 Thank you.

I have been greatly touched by your comments about my tentative return - I was not only surprised by it's sudden return to me but also by the fact I hadn't realised how much I had missed the interaction with you lovely folk whilst posting my version of normalityπŸ’™πŸ’œ

Sunday - today, is miserable. The weather has gone from that crisp Baltic blue sky winter to a driech mushy grey wet disappointment. 

So, Himself and I busied ourselves inside, trying to keep warm whilst tackling a few jobs which have been on our list of 'things to do' (some of them for quite a while).  I will share one of our tasks once the family have seen - don't want to spoil the surprise!

I can share with you (and heartily recommend) my latest baking - Mincemeat Shortbread from Jules of Along the Way. I have made them before, a couple of years ago but had forgotten how absolutely delicious they were.  I can see another batch needing making fairly quickly😊

The tree is up - over the years, I have not felt the need to plaster the house in festive decorations, paring it down each time until I feel gently satisfied with the result. This year is the most minimal (the most Scandinavian) I've ever gone and it feels right. 

Time to put the kettle on, Youngest and his lovely girl will be here shortly and I think those mincemeat shortbread will not eat themselves πŸ˜†

Before I go - are your decorations up? have you gone for all the glitz and pizazz you can to brighten up the season or simple and minimal?
And do try Jules' recipe and if you do - drop her (and me!) a note if you can and report back - coz they are definitely nom nom nom!

Wow - a second post, I think I might be on a roll.....


A blue sky day

 There are rituals around this time of the year that call to me.

This particular one - the village card delivery walk - has so many precious memories linked with it and they filled my head and heart as I walked with Moss while we dropped off cards. I think that this is the first year that I have been on my own - most of my pack are working or away so it was up to myself and Moss to fly the flag today.

We both wrapped up, well I wrapped us both warmly. I ignored the snarky side eye and exaggerated sighs from the dog as I lashed her into her harness to make sure her green fleecy 'jimjams' stayed snug. She is not a regular wearer of dog attire but with the temperatures as low as they are at the moment and with our route being a fair bit of trudging through icy fields and lanes - I ignored the irritated eye rolls and buckled a fidgety dog into her outdoor gear.

There was something familiar and comforting in following the route we'd used since we first moved into the village. I stopped and breathed in the icy air - great lungful's of the bitterly sharp stuff making myself cough and my eyes water - took a moment to recover. Moss did give me a bit of a concerned look then sped off skittering and slipping on the ice with such a silly grin on her face leaving me gasping and wheezing and laughing.

The sky is a brilliant blue - one that fills my heart with such joy.

We're back now, most of the cards delivered, one or two still to write, but with a snoring dog and a steaming mug of tea there is a gentle feeling of satisfaction that this year and with this little ritual completed that small moments like these are worth treasuring.

I have not gone, I am still about, I just needed space to breathe. Sometimes simple things in life just seem to sparkle and I had felt to have lost that spark - I am hoping it has returned.


For now

 I'll be hibernating this blog for a while - will be back when it feels right and the stories start to flow again.

You can find me on instagram as kj.sutcliffe - I will probably dip in and out of there. See you on the other side xx


small moments in an unsettled world


I am very grateful (and extremely lucky) that I work in an environment (pun fully intended) which is healing. There are instants which make me gently hold my breath as I watch or see or notice a small precious moment. This week was no different but I thought that I would share just a few of these gems with you. Like going back to pick up my chilly mug (Jayne) and discover I had plonked it down just moments before in a nest of Erigeron Karvensis (Mexican fleabane) daisies and seeing the combination made my heart sing.
Spotting a very dark ladybird pupae on a richly purple dahlia leaf in the cutting garden, hopefully it will emerge before the frosts so that it will be able to overwinter as an adult. If not, we will carefully put the cut off foliage in one of the sheds so the pupae (there were dozens) can mature in safety.
Sharing my lemon shortbread biscuit with a Robin whilst working in one of the private gardens I maintain.
Ravelling 400gm balls of wool blend into 100gm yarn cakes before starting my next project - my sense of smell is rather random at the moment but I could catch a delicious scent of lanolin when I buried my nose deep into the huge and squishy balls of wool 
This idiot. 

Who drives me both crazy and fills my heart with equal measure - she has not been coming to work regularly recently as she 'looks after' who ever happens to be at home at the moment, so on the odd days that she puts on her 'work clothes', the dog harness, she is beyond excited. Her day is filled with rounding up wheelbarrows, collecting up sticks, herding volunteers and supervising our work - by the time we get home she is ready for her food and a well deserved nap!

And the princess. Pan. Still aloof and occasionally cranky but then who isn't? She has definitely mellowed and decided humans are not that dreadful. She has her favourites (makes that very obvious!) however, she is definitely the hairy heart of our home.

It is little moments like these which keep me grounded. I need to get myself ready for work, another private garden, a moorland wild meadow where Moss can come and play whilst I am there. She will be delighted......!

Thank you every one for your lovely and encouraging comments regarding my attempt at Kaketsugi mending - it is on hold at the moment as I am waiting for a packet of needle threaders to land in the post then I can get on with the final few threads - hardly any left to weave in. Then I will tidy away the remaining threads and hand it back to its owner😊

Enjoy the rest of your week, hope you too find small moments that fill your heart xxxx


Weaving on a tiny scale

 With rain falling outside and this morning's work completed just in time (despite bumping into an acquaintance I'd not seen to talk to in nearly a decade making me run 45 minutes late) I am now sitting at the table with the radio quietly singing to the kitchen and a mug of tea which - if I am honest - I am not enjoying as much as I would like. Covid has left me with a distaste for dairy......

I thought I would use this quiet time to get started on another mending request. However - this one is not all about the show and tell but the invisibility of the patch. A form of Kaketsugi (because my version will never be as amazing as the Japanese artform) which entails finding a piece of fabric which matches, then gently unravelling enough thread on all four sides to weave in to make the original pattern.... easy right? Nope. It is a wonderful form of meditation and frustration in equal measure. I will get it done, I am determined to do so but I am on hold at the moment as I need a new needle threader - I just can not find mine. 

Fortunately these trousers have a pocket on the back which had been stitched shut which meant I could 'harvest' a decent sized patch. The hole was tatty and shredded so I neatened the edges and cut off the surplus threads.

Then began the enjoyably mindful task of gently' un-weaving' a row at a time until there was enough fabric to cover the hole but sufficient thread to weave back into the main body of the trousers.
Lining up the weave turned out to be a little problematic when I discovered that within the plaid patterning there were further smaller weave stitches which are different in each block, I knew the patch could only go one way otherwise it would not match - eek.

All the photos I have taken through my magnifying crafting light - something I sigh a sigh of relief each time I use it as it make dealing with the teeny tiny so so very much easier!

My biggest hiccup was the size of my needle. I had the perfect super slender bead needle which slipped through the weave with ease, the problem was threading it - even with a needle threader it was nigh on impossible. The next size up was also too difficult to thread so I finally settled on a slightly thicker one again and finally managed not only to thread up but to weave through.
I have just woven the cream and mustard threads (where my snippers are pointing) and I am pleased with the effect. Time to slurp a mug of tea with the barest of drops of milk and get on with it!

All I can say is .... watch this space (I won't say hold your breath - I may be quite some time weaving in those threads) this is super slow sewing at it's best!