Monday, May 4, 2015

2015 A to Z Challenge Reflections

It's been nice to have a couple of days to rest from blogging, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss it just a little bit. Being in the routine of having a post ready to go every night just became a way of life. Without a post to edit or check on, I've felt like something was missing for the past few nights.

Today, it's time for reflection. It's time to look back over the last month and review how things went for me, what I enjoyed (or didn't), what went well (or didn't), what I did, and what I plan to do in the future. It's really just a good way to wrap it up in a nice and tidy bow.

This was my second year participating in the A to Z Challenge. I learned a few things beyond what I learned last year. I also had a bit of a different experience than my maiden voyage. These are my thoughts...

The Results:

I completed a total of 26 project posts, including 25 projects new to the blog and 1 throwback post. I call that pretty successful. (Full listing of projects -- with photos -- at the end of this post.)

The Bloggers:

Like last year, I spent a lot of the challenge getting projects ready, editing photos, and writing posts. I was a little more prepared this year, with only about seven projects to complete during the month of A to Z, but I had less time available thanks to my adventure in going back to school this year.

I still did my best to get out there and read other blogs. I started out by visiting a minimum of 10 blogs a day for the first 10 days or so. Then it felt like things exploded. I was getting swamped just trying to keep up on posting, replying to comments, and visiting both the bloggers I had already visited and felt interested in, as well as those who were commenting on my posts. (By the way, if you commented on one of my posts along the way, I followed you for the remainder of the challenge.)

I tried to comment on as many posts as I could, but I was amassing a stack of posts in the 100's each day from A to Z blogs alone. My other blog reading got neglected a lot of the time. My poor Feedly grew to over 1000 unread posts on several days throughout the month.

Instead of bookmarking blogs to a tab this year, I added everyone I visited into my Feedly. This kept things better organized and ensured that I didn't miss any posts. It worked quite well and it's how I'll be doing things from now on.

I really enjoyed visiting and interacting with the other bloggers as I had last year. I like the sense of community that the challenge brings. That is my primary reason for participating. While not every blog I read will remain in regular rotation, there are a small handful of blogs that I will continue to read now that A to Z is done. Like last year, the majority of these bloggers are ones who visited me consistently throughout the challenge. I feel like friendships and connections have been formed.

The Social Media:

Social media was different for me this time around. I didn't focus on other blog linky posts like I did last year, partially because I was just too darned busy to mess with it and partially because I just felt like being a little more mellow about it all. Because of this, I didn't gain the number of followers I did last year, nor did I have as many hits consistently throughout the challenge.

However, overall I still had just as many hits, if not more. Some of this was due to A to Z traffic, but a lot of it came from Reddit. I posted my projects there beginning about midway through and noticed a sudden spike in hits. Since my project posts are now set to automatically crosspost (thanks to IFTTT), this will be helpful for next year.

Thank you very much to all of you who have followed in one way or another. Also a big thanks to those of you who have pinned my projects. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good:
  • Once again, my preparation work was very helpful. I wasn't as on top of things with my scheduling as I was last year, but having the majority of the projects and photos completed before the month even started was beyond helpful.
  • Like last year, I met some great new people. It's what will keep me coming back.
  • Revamping my blog through my participation in Bloggiesta a mere week before A to Z was genius. I feel like my page got cleaned up and classed up just in time. Everything was up to date and organized and that felt great.
  • Photos were better this year. I still have some work to do on finding good light sources in my house and I need to figure out a way to take decent in-progress pictures even when my craft time extends beyond daylight hours.
  • I survived! Despite my hectic schedule, I made it through the entire A to Z again, only having to use one throwback post and taking one Hail Mary from a previously completed (but not planned) project. It worked!

The Bad:
  • My blog reading goals weren't met after the first week or so. I became so overwhelmed by everything else that I just dropped the ball a bit. The good news about this is that I will continue to visit down the Reflections list and I will be taking part in the Road Trip to keep seeking out A to Z bloggers until next year.
  • The schedule was a killer. Between work, family, school, and this challenge, I exhausted myself during the month. I went to bed later than I should have every night and I was pushing deadlines all over the place. I was better at the balance than last year, but I still have work to do.

The Ugly:
  • Ha...looking back at last year's reflections, it seems that my "ugly" is the same. "I've wrecked my evening schedule. I need to start moving again. I'm so used to spending my nights checking out blogs or writing posts that I haven't done much in the way of physical activity. So my slug days need to be over. I'll be working on getting back in the swing of things again." Yup...time to start moving. It's heading towards summer and I need to get myself back in shape. It's time for a change.
  • Like last year, there is a mess to clean up. Both the scrapbook room and the sewing room have been decimated. I need to gather and regroup so I can start working on new projects. There is much to be done...

The Verdict:

I am once again calling the challenge a success! Despite the exhaustion and the craziness, I still enjoyed myself. I will be prepping and planning for a reboot next year.

I met another handful of excellent bloggers and I am very thankful that they took the time to come check out the craziness that I had going on over here. To those bloggers: THANK YOU for being my A to Z cheerleading squad; I hope I was able to be something of the same for you.

The Future:

I'm not really sure what the blog will be up to in the next few months. I'll still be here and posting something, I'm just not sure what the mix will entail.

With the craziness of school, it seems the time I have available for crafting has shrunk dramatically. I have a few things I want to tackle and get better at (primarily pattern sewing and sewing clothing), so we'll see if some of that translates into bloggable things.

...and now the important part...

The Posts:

Since there will no doubt be visitors who weren't here during the entire month, here's a recap of the projects I completed this year (along with links to their individual posts):

Thank you to all of you once again, bloggers and challenge organizers alike. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to be a crazy challenge participant again this year. Congratulations to all of you who, like me, managed to survive the madness of the A to Z Challenge!


  1. Congrats on making it through. It is hard to keep up with all the posts. I kept a group for blogs that I visited, but many days I'd just mark them all as read. There was no way I could keep up if I didn't do that.

    Great projects.

    1. It's pretty overwhelming once in a while. I'm thankful for A to Z Road Trip. It will give me a chance to go back and visit everyone that I haven't had the chance to get to know.

  2. I struggled to keep up with all the blogs as well. In the end, like you, I just settled for visiting people who visited me and leaving comments back.

    I'm planning on using the next few months to catch up on all the blogs that I missed out on during April. I've added you to my BlogLovin' list by the way. I've really enjoyed your posts though I've got a few to go back and read again. :-)

    Cait @ Click's Clan

    1. It made it a little easier to build that connection, which I think is always the best part of blogging. I'm playing the Road Trip game as well. Thank you so much for following me! I'm actually doing the same with your blog. I'll be looking forward to reading about your adventures in the upcoming months and wish you the best of luck.

  3. Thank you so much for commenting! I've got you bookmarked now so I can come back ;-)

    I'm so glad I wasn't the only who cheated a little on X, mine was Xmas instead of Christmas.

    Gina @ Book Dragon's Lair

    1. Thanks Gina! I'm glad you'll be visiting! I feel a lot better the more I hear from others who tweaked their X approach.

  4. Wow Elle,

    You outdid yourself in summing things up. I've never read a summary quite like this one. I think you're a very articulate person, the same as you are with your craft projects. That's a very positive trait. I really enjoyed finding your blog during the challenge and will be stopping by often now that the challenge is over. I want to see what else you come up with. I think you're quite talented.


    1. Thanks Sunni! I appreciate the compliments. (You're making me blush.) I'm really glad that you were able to share A to Z with me. Hopefully I have some fun projects for you to see here soon. I'm doing a bit of book blogging for the next week or so, but then who knows what I'll be up to. :)

  5. This was a really fun theme :) I am glad you enjoyed the challenge and got some good things out of it! And thank you for the visits and the comments :) Don't worry about not meeting your visiting schedule, you can always wander around during the Road Trip! :)

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary

    1. Thank you! I'm so glad you were able to visit me during A to Z. I enjoyed reading posts on both of your blogs...though I was partial to the crazy Hungarian history on MopDog. You really took on a lot by running both for A to Z. Incredibly impressive. I don't think I could have handled that much responsibility. I will definitely be joining in on Road Trip. My A to Z reading isn't done yet!

  6. Congrats on completing the A to Z Challenge! Looking forward to next year! See you on the Road Trip!

    Mary @ Jingle Jangle Jungle

  7. Hi Elle! Reading your reflections post made me realize that your are a RocKSTAR! How you did all of this plus go to school is beyond me. I will bookmark you and come back to your projects. I followed you last year in the challenge and just didn't make it this year. I am on the A to Z Road Trip now so hope to catch up with many amazing blogs. Your reflections post is one of the best I have read!

    1. Thanks Paula! It was a crazy month, that's for sure. I have some projects on the horizon that I hope to start working on in the next few weeks. (I've been enjoying a bit of a break this month.) Glad you were able to make it back over this year. Thank you!

  8. Loving your theme :) Although it looks like a LOT of hard work!
    Popping by on the A to Z Road Trip

    1. Thanks Debbie! It's a fun thing to tackle, but it definitely wears me out. It was nice to take some time off for May, but I'll be back to making projects next month. Glad you were able to visit!

  9. You are one crafty woman! I love it! I am also super intrigued by the Bout of Books Read-a-Thon that you took part in! Hopefully it will happen again next year and I can participate! Stopping by on the AtoZ Road Trip!
    Brandy from Brandy's Bustlings

    1. Thanks Brandy! I love read-a-thons! They do Bout of Books about every 3 months so there will be another one at the end of summer (August 17th). You'll have to try and join in! Glad you were able to stop by. I'll be seeing you shortly!

  10. Wow, you not only blogged A to Z but you CRAFTED it as well?!!!! That little owl is adorable. When I get little people in my life again, I'll have to try my hand at peg dolls. Too cute.

    @ShonnaSlayton from
    Shonna Slayton YA Writer - Blogged the 1940’s from A to Z and now on the road trip

    1. Yep. I kept myself busy for sure. Glad you liked the owls...they're really pretty easy to do, but the kiddos seem to love them as well. The peg dolls are totally my favorites. I'm planning to try my hand at some new sets this summer. We shall see... Totally looking forward to checking out your theme! We love the 40's around here!!

  11. Hello there.
    Congratulations on completing the challenge! This was my second year too and the one thing I learned from last year was preparation is key. I pre-wrote my posts ahead of time since I took all but one of my own photos and blogger scheduler was a bonus. Just meandering through today from the Road Trip.

    Entrepreneurial Goddess

    1. Thank you so much! Yes...writing and planning ahead totally saved my bacon. I'm going to try to even more of the preplanning next year so I can get out and visit more. In the meantime, I'm doing the Road Trip as well!

  12. Sorry I missed your blog during the challenge, but am now enjoying the road trip visits to blogs that have signed up. I took a little time off and like you, missed the daily routine. (I write all my posts ahead of time) Now in June I am writing a series of summertime memory etc. posts and feel better with a theme, a goal, and a routine. If you feel like a trip, come and see me. Never too late to visit the blogs you missed.

    1. A theme and a routine is always helpful. I think the summer has caused me a little disruption in that department. It's a nice change, but the blog is where things suffer as I take time for other things. Hopefully I can wrangle myself back in.

  13. I Elle ^_^
    I'm stopping by on the Road Trip. I didn't find your blog during the challenge. Pity, but hey, fortunatly there is the Road Trip!

    I enjoyed reading your reflection post. It was my first AtoZ, but I feel a lot like you. I enjoyed the challenge a lot, but about halfway through I got panicky. I started with just one week worth of posts ready and half through the month I come to a point I had no post ready and had to write like crazy well past my usual sleep time at night.
    It was hard, but worth it.

    And I met some fantastic bloggers I'm still following.

    I've never used Feedly, but I think I'll start to :-)

    The Old Shelter - Roaring Twenties

    1. Thanks for visiting! Yes...this is exactly what Road Trip is for. I'm doing the same thing.

      A to Z is definitely a challenge, no doubt about that. I was better about planning this year than last, but I still have room for improvement for sure.

  14. Your crafts are super adorable! I appreciate all the thought and hard work you put into the challenge.

    Write with Fey


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