Monday, 16 January 2012

Breaking my 2012 blog duck...

Well, I think it's time for my first post of 2012!

Sorry I've been absent for so long but I've been so exhausted that I just haven't had the energy to write a new post.  (I hope this doesn't come across as whinging, apologies if it does!)  I'm slowly catching up on the rest (and sleep) I need but I think it's going to be quite a while before I get back to where I was before Christmas.  Not to worry, this is quite usual for me.  Every Christmas leaves me absolutely shattered (even if, like this year, it was very relaxed and didn't feel overly demanding) and it usually takes me until somewhere around the end of March to get back to where I was at the beginning of December.  I just have to accept that there are things that won't get done for a while so I do the things that are important and a bit of sewing to keep me sane (usually hand sewing as I find it much less tiring than machine sewing) and everything else has to wait until I'm ready to tackle it.

Something that really made itself felt over Christmas was how nice it was to have permission (from myself!) not to try and keep up with all the happenings in blogland.  I missed you all (a lot!) but it was lovely to not worry about 'keeping up' with all the new posts and emails and I had much more time for sewing (and resting!) than I usually do.  I'm going to have to find a way to reduce the time I 'need' to spend on the computer reading/commenting on blogs and reading/writing emails - any tips?  At the moment it takes me two or three hours a day to read (and comment on) all the new posts on my list and read/reply to emails.  And that's without writing a blog post!  And I'm a quick reader and relatively fast at typing so it's not like I can speed up that bit.  It's just too much for me and I need to find a bit of balance.  How do the rest of you manage?!! If you have any wonderful tips please share them, after speaking to a few people about it I'm not the only one struggling with this so maybe we could pool our ideas and find a workable solution...wouldn't that be great?!

Now, time for a catch up!

Before Christmas I had a lovely surprise when a prize appeared in my in box - I was lucky enough to win Flossie Teacakes Three Bears Sleeping Bag pattern and although I haven't yet made one I've had a good read of the pattern and it's very well written.  Once I get some energy I'm going to have a go!


And from one Helen to another...there's a lovely new blog on the block.  Helen has just set up her blog, Fabric Twitch, and it would be lovely if you would pay her a visit and leave her a comment.  And maybe even become a follower?  She's just made the most wonderful cushion out of a Rose Star block...

Shamelessly pinched from Fabric Twitch!
...now, wouldn't you like to go and visit the blogger who made that?!!

And I was too late to join the party over at Rhonda's blog but I'm going to be keeping an eye on all of you who've joined the Finish-A-Long and I'm planning to join in the fun in the next quarter.  In the meantime I'm going to concentrate on my Winter Stitching List and I'll also be joining Sarah's Quilt-A-Long (button is in my sidebar).  There are a few photos of the original quilt here.  Isn't it lovely?!  And as she's planning a slow and relaxed pace to the QAL I'm hoping to be able to keep up!

What have I been up to in the past three (ish!) weeks I hear you ask...well, I finally opened all my presents and here's what was in the one from Judith


(Dorothy bag made with wonderful doggy fabric in blue with a contrasting
orange fabric for the drawstring casing)
 
There were some dolly mixtures in there as well as the other sweeties and Archie treats but they didn't quite make it to the photo taking session.  They must have got distracted by the lights on the tree or something *wink*  Archie has been trying to persuade me that because the bag has dogs on it then it was made to hold dog treats...he's not going to win that one!  Thank you, Judith, I love it!!

You may remember that I had prepped some hexies ready to stitch over Christmas and over the weekend I finished stitching the last of that batch.  I have the fabric chosen for my next few hexies but I'm still waiting for some more white on white background fabric to arrive...sigh...I paid for it over a week ago and I'm still waiting for it to arrive.  It's coming from less than 300 miles away, it must be taking the scenic route!

I'm going to spread the photos of my new hexies over my next few posts as I'm also working on a secret project at the moment (or I will be once I get some energy back!) so I may not have much to share with you over the next couple of weeks...and it saves you getting 'hexied out'!

I changed the green in my 'giant star' hexies to white and I think they look a lot better

(Three tumbling blocks that come together to form a six-pointed star)
I haven't put them with the others yet but I'm hoping they don't still stick out like a sore thumb!

(Grey hexagon in a white hexagon in a pink hexagon)
Doesn't the frosty background look lovely?!

 (A spinning windmill hexy - pink patterned centre, blue blades and a white background)
 I love the movement in this one!

 (12 blue and white striped segments that form a smarty pants star in a star in a star in a star...)
And I do love a good stripe!
 
(Hexy with a green patterned centre, narrow white band and a purple and white dotty wide band)
I love the white band in this hexy.

We've also had Alfie to visit a few times and one night he came for a sleep over.  Whilst I was in the shower he decided to guard the door...
I hope you're not going to be long in there - I'm in need of a fuss!

And no, that's not one of Archie's beds he's lying on...it's my bedding!  Fortunately I'd just taken it off the bed (it was waiting to go in the washer!) rather than it being a clean set!

And the next morning Archie decided that he'd quite like a go on the bed that wasn't a bed...


Oi!  What are you doing?  This is my photo!

...but 'someone' couldn't bear to be left out of the photo!


Just before I go (and Giles, I think you'll like this!) I now have proof that not only does the biscuit fairy exist but that she's visited our house!

This is what I found when I was taking down the Christmas tree

(Dog biscuit resting on a branch)
Can you imagine how excited Archie was when he found this?!
So, if you're good maybe she'll pay you a visit when you least expect it!

Oh, and after weeks of looking (I started at the beginning of October!) and trying on dozens of pairs, I've finally found a pair of winter boots that fit and that I like!!  Want to see?

Balanced on two tubs of bird seed!  Never let it be said that I don't know how to take a good photo!

I love them!  And even more so once I found out that they were supposed to be £65 but reduced to £20 in the sale!  I just wish they'd had another pair in my size...


I think that's it for now, I hope to be back soon but can't promise anything!  In the meantime I'm going to attempt to (once again!) catch up with all your blog posts - if I leave short comments it's because I'm struggling to keep up!  There's just one more thing...

Random Fact Four Archie, Alfie and Charlie (Mum and Dad's dearly departed first dog - I'll share a photo of him sometime, when I've scanned one in.  He was one of the cutest dogs to ever walk this earth but was as stubborn as they come!) are/were all rescue dogs and they were all collected from their rescue centres on the fourth of the month.  Archie on 4th August, Alfie on 4th October and Charlie on 4th November (all different years, of course!).  We didn't notice until after Dad got Alfie but it's one of those odd coincidences that happens every now and again! 



39 comments:

  1. Oh phew, I`m not the only one who went AWOL over the holidays...I kind of gave myself permission to fall behind too although I would forgive everyone if they did a disappearing act and didn`t come back! Good for you for taking a break and making some lovely makes! Cuddles to Archie!

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  2. Good to hear from you Helen. No worries about being awol. Just happy to hear from you when you are up to it.

    Regarding blog reading. I have regular culls on my reader. Any blogs that I find myself skipping because I haven't connected with the writer (no matter how nice they seem or what great things they make some quilters you get and others you don't) I delete from the reader. I also stopped following bloggers just to enter giveaways so am no longer building up an endlessly long list of blogs on my list. If a blog I follow has a giveaway I enter it but otherwise I am more likely to ignore them now. If I have to follow I seldom enter.

    I have also found that I prefer reading 'friend's blogs' more than the others. I wish I could have two readers. One with the ones I really want to keep tabs on and then the other that I would look at when I had the time but wouldn't worry if I missed posts.

    Any of the above helping at all?

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  3. That post more than made up for all the missing ones :) I love the stripy hexie! Very clever. Here's wishing you increased energy and lots of rest!

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  4. Like Anne - I keep all of the blogs I want to read on my google reader, periodically I delete the ones that I haven't connected with. I read blogs first thing in the morning with my morning coffee and skim through things on the reader, if I find one that sounds interesting I open it to their blog to read, if it doesn't look real interesting I go on to the next one. I have tried to control my computer time but I haven't had a lot of luck at it - let me know if you come up with good solutions. I do blog once or twice a day, but I am a fast typist and it really doesn't take me a long time to do a post. I find it best for me if I am not at the computer to shut my laptop top down and then I don't notice if I have new mail coming in - when that happens I drop everything to read my mail!
    Karen

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  5. Me too. I've still not sewn anything since before Christmas. Lately I've started to use the Reading List on my Blogger Dashboard to keep up with posts from everyone I'm following and it's a lot quicker than the haphazard way I used to do it but you probably do that anyway. I agree blogging (and all the things associated with it) can sometimes feel like a full time job! Your hexies are fab - the windmill is amazing - and I love your boots. Take care have a restful week :)

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  6. Nice to have you back Helen...I hope Archie enjoyed that biscut from your tree....lol

    If you want to enjoy your blog time; don't worry about trying to answer them all....relax; enjoy and answer when you can. I know how long it takes just to scan through each post....and you sure have got a lot to show for being awol.

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  7. Nice to see you and Archie back. I put all the blogs I follow on my blog roll. (Sometimes I click the follow button and it takes a while for me to remember to add them but that's another story.)I tend to read certain blogs on a regular basis and refer to a few others occasionally. I need to have a cull. I'm also less likely to bother commenting on the blogs of people that NEVER respond to comments. A response occasionally is always a nice incentive to spend time on a blog. Take care of yourself and blog if and when you feel like it. Would it be easier to do shorter blog posts more often the face the task of long energy sapping posts less often? Jan x Ps great boots!!!

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  8. Perfect piecing Helen. Just lovin those sweet hexies.
    You are too clever and too humorous and so well mannered, thats why we love you!

    But your health is paramount. Ignore us.
    Reserve your energy to just sew, so that you can post new blogs.... and we'll still luv ya....and you dont have to reply to each comment. Other bloggers dont.... and if the blogger is good, they still get followed.
    xx

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  9. Love those hexies you're making! They're wonderful.

    Blogging is sometimes something that feels like a full-time job. I've tried recently to cut down on the number of blogs I read/comment on but then I find new-to-me blogs and the number goes right back up! I do try to only comment on friend's blogs or blogs on which I find something that really "speaks" to me. It's hard no matter which way one approaches it!

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  10. Nice to have you back Helen! We missed you!

    Re blog reading... Have a gentle prune, or a full on blog-icide of those you are not so fussed about. There's always a couple that you don't connect with, I know I personally follow a whole bunch of blogs which I never really read, I just think I should follow them... Either that, or set yourself an allotted amount of time each day, and write off any that don't get read in that time.

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  11. Lovely to see your hexies, boots and wins, and maybe Archie too!!

    I have 'hidden' a few blogs from my list - which means I still officially follow (handy sometimes), but I don't feel the urge to read everything. It's a hard one, I agree. xxx

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  12. Oh I'm so glad you and Archie are back to posting. His "ears down" say it all - Not happy to share his picture! He really is such a pretty dog. Lovely hexis!

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  13. Hey, welcome back :o)

    Love the hexies, and good luck with the boot hunt actually in your size!

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  14. Lovely catch up post Helen and glad to see you have got some stunning hexies done! The star and the spinning windmill are adorable! Well they all are!

    Still loving the canines! Cute! Quite looking forward to the prospect of having our own - though when/if that will be ...?

    Look after yourself - I'm so behind on blog reading too but I try to keep up with friends first and flick through the rest as I now also have flickr stuff to look through and comment on!

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  15. Missed you! Fantastic hexies, I didn't realise how many possibilities there are! I'm doing the rose and star block party too, my first time pp!!
    Fantastic boots :)
    I'm with Laura, have a cull and then if the numbers are still too high hit delete all over a day old - you'll catch up with the ones you really like! Sometimes I only have time to read and not comment, which I hate doing but I'm just too busy!

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  16. I knew it! The biscuit fairy does exist! and the boot fairy too!! I think boots are awesome and even pondered whether I could wear boots ... then I decided I'd look too much like a cowboy so dropped that idea!!! ... how about the cake fairy? shout if you or Archie spies her!

    As for less tiring ways of managing the blog reading ... have you thought about trying a screen reader? That might sound daft when you can see perfectly well, but I know from when I could still see enough to read and was resisting trying a screen reader ... it made my eyes so tired trying to read blogs, especially lengthy posts, that I eventually gave up and deserted blog land for a good while.

    As you've heard, the speed of a reader can be adjusted and you can zip through a lot of blogs in less time than it'd take to visually read them. It's certainly something to think about ... and you can easily turn the screen reader off when you're done reading blogs.

    The other tip I have is using the Blogger dashboard .... it has the list of blogs you're following and then a list of recent updates ... I go through that list of updates listening to the blog title and who it's posted by, and if it's a blog I want to read (some I follow like stores from giveaways and don't read every update they post) ... then I listen to the first couple of sentences to get the gist of what the post is about ... if it's interesting and I want to read more then I click the link, read the post in a new window, comment if I want and close the window ... the screen reader is then back at the next post in the list and I carry on with the titles / authors, reading the summary, and opening if I want to read more ... it sure speeds things up and I can cope with my reading list of around 80 blogs very easily.

    Also, as a previous commenter suggested, don't feel compelled to reply to every single comment! I ticked the box to be notified of follow up comments to one I left for you on The Night Before Christmas and have seen first-hand how many comments you sometimes get! I don't try to reply to every single comment I get, and I get a lot less than you (I'm not as cute as Archie!) ... if it's a nice comment, a long comment, or asks you questions then reply to those ... if it's somebody you haven't commented on their blog or replied to one of their comments in a while then comment on that .. but if it's a general nice comment then I'm sure the blogger will understand not getting a comment back all the time ... and they're probably thanking you for not clogging up their inbox with replies that are nice but not really necessary.

    Crikey I can ramble on sometimes can't I! Hope the suggestions give you some ideas, and I'll be happy to talk more about how a screen reader can speed up your computing if you like :)

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  17. hi helen - good to see you back in blogland - can't add anything to what others have written above re 'how to do it all in less time' - other than - you're the mistress of your own time, so do what's right for you - we're a long time dead!

    ...and your hexies are FANTASTIC - from the patterns to the colours - my fave is the one with the sparkly border....

    and i have a paid of doc martins, they're red - so i totally get your choice in boots - perfick!

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  18. Helen....so good you are back! I love all the paper piecing! Your hexies are wonderful! I really like the tumbling blocks...I think I need to put it on my to-do list. Well, the dogs are just fabulous...don't you just love them :) My pup was a pound puppy as well...adopting her was one of the best things we have ever done!!!

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  19. I love your hexies and that you had a break. I am going try what Giles said about the dashboard. I don't comment all the time, and I just hope that my friends understand that I am just behind and busy.

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  20. So nice to see you back, Helen! :o) Hope you're well rested.

    Don't worry about feeling obligated to read and/or comment. You have to do what's right for you. I tend to use the blog roll in the right sidebar of my page to scan for blogs to read. I can use the settings to check which blogs to have show up in that list, and have it show them in order of most recent post. That way, whenever I visit my page, I take a quick scan to see if there are any new posts from my favorite blogs.

    And once in a while, I set aside some time to blog surf, as a treat, where I can just sit and read and comment, etc. But doing it every day would be a full time job, like others have said.

    Love your boots! And Archie is such a cute, as always. :) Take care.
    xo

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  21. I like those stuffs especially your boots and those dogs were so cute. I love them all!

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  22. Great to have you back! Your hexies are flippin' amazing - I can't even choose a fab cos they are all so brilliant! What hands you've got! Love the boots too! Glad you enjoyed your sweeties! Jxo

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  23. Hello!! Welcome back! Oh I am just the same with my blogs, it's getting too much now, I've stopped entering giveways if they insist on following. I think I have said before I am going to have to stop following some as I find I am spending half my day on the laptop! Love the pictures of Archie and Alfie ...oh and your sewing is nice too... :-)Hugs xxxxx

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  24. Hello Helen and Archie and Happy New Year to you both.
    I don't often read other comments but I did with this one of yours to see if I too could pick up some tips. I am a slow reader so it takes me ages.
    What I have started to do, is like you, give yourself permission to not do things.
    I think some blogs have a button on them which says "Blogging without Obligation"
    Which is fair enough. I can't keep up with everything that comes in my inbox so I've stopped worrying about it.
    I also, don't blog as often. The blogs I like the best I subscribe to so that their posts come into my inbox. If I have time to read them I do if not..

    This is a slow time of year for me too. SAD plays a big part of that for me. However, for some reason I seem to have had a burst of sewing enthusiasm just after Christmas... when I'm usually well in the doldrums. I hope it lasts.

    Love your hexagons (I love pictures best) and the cute pictures of Alfie and Archie.

    Take care and be good to yourself :)
    hugs Ellyx
    ps love your boots too. My DD has ones very similar.

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  25. I totally understand going AWOL. :-) Oh and I know all about SAD. It doesn't hit me until right about now when the days all look the same...gray. It helps that the sun has been out and the winter has been mild but that changed recently. Unfortunately, it's a monkey on my back until the first of April. Here's to Spring!!! Lol!

    Glad to hear your back!

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  26. Great hexies. And glad you had a good break.

    I know, blog reading can really pile up. Especially if you take a couple of days off. More than that and it gets ridiculous. I handle my load by reading blogs on the way to/from work. In my reader, which speeds things up. I don't reply to every post that my blog friends write. I figure no one can do that and that none of us should try to. Depending on howmuch of a backlog I have, I may just skim read the posts, reading some more in depth (especially if the pics or title really jumped out at me). And often, my comments are short. No one seems to mind that either. After all, we'd all much rather spend our time on our crafts. The only thing I make sure I do, is reply to every comment left on my blog, though sometimes it's a few days later.

    Mostly just don't stress. This isn't supposed to be a chore :)

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  27. Sounds like we are all in the same boat on the blog reading. I do sometimes think I could be sewing more if I put the laptop down. You know I am a bit challenged and don't use Reader but I occasionally cull some blogs that I follow and realise I have not been reading.
    Meanwhile your hexies are quite beautiful and your boots fab...I love a bargain too.

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  28. good to see you and archie back - and the new sleepover guest! Nice to hear you had a relaxing break. I dont always read all the blogs that I follow, I have some that I always read and others when I have the time

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  29. Thank you so much for the mention, you are too lovely. Glad to hear you are picking up a bit now and those hexies are great! x

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  30. Great to see you back, and dogs and hexies, what more could we want!!

    When I'm really busy I am trying to only look at any bloggy stuff on alternate days (radical suggestion, and loud intake of breath). I tend to find I can skim through things then, and I will still spend time reading about the people I am enjoying getting to know, and others I realise I can skip for a few days and still survive.

    I've got to definately cut down, or I will never sew (or play with my kids) again.

    P.S I won't be in the slightest bit offended if you are too busy sewing to reply to this message

    x

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  31. Ooooh wow Helen that smartypants stripey star is freakin fabulous - I want one or a dozen or so for mine... Know exactly what you mean, it was well into feb when I recovered from christmas last year... not so bad this year thankfully but then I didnt do anythin or go anywhere. Just rest up and dont feel bad about it. hugs x

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  32. Great to see you back, don't stress too much about the blog!

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  33. Helen,
    I cannot keep up with all the blogs I follow. And I found that all my other hobbies and interests were suffering. I get up very early and spend about an hour or two visiting and writing. I have found that organizing my photos first helps the blog go faster.

    I have done no sewing since before Christmas. I made a mistake on my hexie quilt and I am not in the mood to rip out and fix. I have been knitting for a new baby in our family. I am finally figuring out that I can't do it all and that is ok!

    Carol

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  34. Hi your hexies look great, hope you get back to full strength again soon. With blog reading I skim some, read others but don't comment (esp on bigger blogs) and read and comment on ones where I feel I know the writer. If they build up sometimes I just delete them from my reader. I don't get as many comments as you but I do try and reply when i can even if it's a quick thanks. My comments come through as emails which I can pick up on my phone so I often do replies when I have 5 mins spare. I also do a lot of my blog reading and replying while watching tv, I appear to be unable to concentrate on one thing at once. I also only do posts once or twice a week. Remember you need to find what works for you. I started my blog as a sort of diary and whilst I am flattered that people read and follow and comment I don't want to get to the point that it's a chore rather than fun. And here endeth my longest ever comment!

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  35. Hello you, those hexies are, as usual, adorable! I SO cannot keep up with blogs...generally I end up picking a few favourites rather than reading my list from top to bottom...and I only comment if I've got something to say. If I get a bit more time, I'll dip into some of the others on my list, but I NEVER get through them all...so don't feel bad, we're all in the same situation!

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  36. I have been missing too - been doing some hand-sewing too but haven't got round to blogging about it. I feel a huge catch-up post coming on. Like you I try and answer all comments but it's not always possible - I always answer if I'm asked a question. Hope you're feeling more like yourself soon xxxxx

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  37. Glad to have you back Helen. Archie and Alfie are looking sweet as always :) And your hexies are amazing. I especially love the stripey one and the windmill.
    I love reading blogs, but I only comment if I actually have something to say. And I can only cope with posting a blog post about once a week.
    I also have a wee half hour set aside each weekday morning when I get back in from the school run. I whizz round and clear up the kitchen while I boil the kettle, pop some porridge in the microwave, and switch the computer on. Then I sit down for a peaceful half hour and enjoy my breakfast while I read some of my favourite blogs.

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  38. Hi I have found the tool to add a pinterest button on your blog!
    Next to your name at the top left is a button called 'about'. second item down gives you a choice of buttons to add to your blog.

    Enjoy!

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  39. Hi Helen-- just rereading this post again and all the comments-- some good advice in there. I love all your Hexies, but am in shock at the number of blue gingham ones that you need to make for the quilt (1500). You are too funny with the photos of the dogs and your captions of what they are thinking. I have no advice to offer on keeping up with the blog reading and responding-- I don't have nearly as many followers as you and I know that I sometimes get overwhelmed/ behind. Sometimes I think you just have to let it go-- glad you allowed yourself a little break for the holidays--- that's a step! Have you been wearing the boots? Your hexies really are beautiful.

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I love comments, thank you for yours!!


P.S. I've had to activate comment moderation for older posts so if your comment doesn't appear, it's probably in my inbox awaiting my attention!

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