Monday, April 30, 2012

26 Letters Later (A Meta-Blogging Post)

According to the official instructions, I'm supposed to post about my experiences with the A-Z Challenge on May 7th. But honestly? I don't want to wait that long. I'm ready to move on from the challenge and go back to my ordinary blog format.

Thank you to the organizers and co-hosts of the A-Z Challenge! You've created a very busy and engaged blogging community, and you should be proud of that.

Did I follow the rules?
  • Post daily except for Sundays? Check!
  • Visit at least five blogs each day? Check!
  • Write a recap at the end of the challenge? Check!
  • Feel overwhelmed and then berate myself for it? Double check!

What were the benefits?
  • 64 new followers on Google Friend Connect (from 118 to 182). It was really exciting to watch that number increase!
  • Discovered lots of great new blogs.
  • High visitor-to-commenter ratio, with a lot of interesting, funny comments on my posts.
  • Opportunity to reexamine my goals and style as a blogger. 

Did the challenge affect the way that I blogged?


I quickly realized that I would be unable to continue with my regular blogging style during the challenge. This blog has only been around for six months, but I knew right from the start that I wasn't a "blog every single day" kind of blogger. I prefer to focus on quality rather than on quantity. The first few days were overwhelming, and by the time I got to the letter F I realized that I'd need to be easier on myself if I wanted to complete the challenge.

Comments:

I usually respond to every single comment. I just couldn't keep up during the challenge and I was starting to dread even opening up my blog. So I stopped responding to the majority of comments.

I usually visit - and comment on - every one of my readers' blogs. While this is still important to me, I simply couldn't do it during the challenge. I tried during the first few days, and found myself spending 2-3 hours every evening trudging through blogs without even taking the time to enjoy them. So I scaled back. A lot. I still have a list of all of the bloggers who visited me during the challenge, and I will be returning the favour over the next few weeks. I really hope that no one gets lost in the shuffle.

I couldn't keep up with my own blog reader during the challenge. There's a core group of blogs that I read daily, without fail.  But during the month of April, I found myself clicking "mark all as read" more than once, and then I would try to binge-read my favourites on weekend mornings.


Post quality:

I generally take a lot of pride in my posts. Every time I hit publish, I'm excited because I feel that I'm putting up the best clay story that I've written up to that point. I can't say that this was true in April. There were lots of posts without stories. There was no way that I could maintain my regular blog style - longer stories, lots of new clay figures, backgrounds and setting, narrative structure - and post every single day.

There were a few posts this month that I could have tweaked a bit and been happy to post at any time - Alien Abduction, Dentists, Easter Candy, Marathons, Negative Pregnancy Tests, Quiet Talkers - but overall, most of my posts this month would have been better suited for the Clay Baboons Facebook page, rather than the blog.


Sharing:

I put a lot of importance as a blogger on sharing other people's work. While I still tweeted other people's blog posts from time to time this month, I didn't do it as often as I normally would. I also rarely updated my illustrated blog board on Pinterest. I didn't link to anyone else's work at all on my blog in April.


Am I glad that I did it?

Yes, absolutely. While the experience was very time-consuming and even overwhelming at times, I'm glad that I signed up and I'm glad that I stuck it out.   I felt a sense of accomplishment when I hit publish on the 26th post.  The challenge was also great exposure for my blog.  I really enjoyed making some new blog friends; you guys are seriously funny.


Would I do it again?

Maybe?

*twitch*

What's next?

As of today, Clay Baboons will be going back to its regular format:
  • Weekly story posts.  Always.  Usually.  Every single week.  Most weeks. Maybe sometimes even two stories in one week, but probably not.
  • Longer posts with more of a narrative structure.
  • A wider variety of clay figurines, along with backgrounds.
  • Weekly-ish sharing posts, where I link to some of my favourite things that I didn't write (but wish that I did).
  • Sporadic micro-stories (one picture one sentence - like most of my posts in April) generally posted on the Facebook page instead of here. 
  • More interaction with readers (responding to comments, reading blogs, interacting on Twitter and Facebook).
  • Higher quality photos.  I hope.  I may have shed a metaphorical tear on April 19th when Picnik closed.  I've been editing my photos since then on PicMonkey, but I haven't yet figured out how to get the colours right.

Thank you to my regular readers who stuck it out with me over the past month!

Welcome to all of my new readers!

I'm glad that you came by, and I hope that you'll come back again.  If you're new to the blog, you might want to check out some of my older stories to get a better idea of how I normally write:


Woman vs Treadmill


Zombies Gave me Carpal Tunnel Syndrome


For Self-Loathing, Press Three


Stand Up and Be Counted


A Letter From the Teacher
(originally posted on the fantabulous We Band of Mothers)

84 comments:

  1. It sounds like a good experience but love your regular format too. Check out my post today, help for "your friend" and her 4pm afternoon munchies. How fun would this be in clay figures? just an idea.

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    1. If I made it out of clay, I'd have a frame of me eating bread pudding and drinking chocolate milk while reading your blog. Ummm...not that I actually DID that. Of course not. It would just for dramatic purposes. Or something.

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  2. I will miss reading a daily post from you. I am glad you entered the challenge. You have real talent. I am almost sad the challenge is over. It was hard to keep up, but somehow I managed. All I had to do was read. I can only imagine what it was like for everyone that participated.

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    1. Thanks Nellie! I'm glad I entered too...but I'm NOT sad that it's over! ;)

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  3. You did a great job,Stephanie! I guess I didn't read the rules that well. I didn't know we were supposed to post about our experience on May 7. Now I know!! Have to go do my last post...Wheeee!!!

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    1. I can't even find that rule on the website. I think it was in an email. Or else I made it up. Yeah, there's a very good chance that I made it up.

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  4. i am so glad you stuck with the a-z blogging challenge, stephanie - good for you on finishing our creative marathon!
    oops, i missed that we were supposed to visit 5 blogs per day...did not do that.
    i'm glad you feel good about returning to your usual style - can't wait to see your future stories and clay figures!!
    thanks for sharing your feelings about visiting blogs, commenting, etc. i find i have to set time boundaries for myself or i just get too sucked up in time on the computer, blogs. so many blogs, so little time!

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    1. Congratulations to you too! I think I'm reading too many blogs now. But there's so much good stuff on the interwebs...

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  5. I, personally, really enjoyed your posts during the challenge (even the short ones). Doing something like the challenge pulls you off of the autopilot way of life for a minute. I really believe that every time we do something new (especially when it's not comfortable or blissfully fun) we learn useful things that help us to be better people.
    I'm continually amazed at how this virtual world, and virtual friends, can be so real and make life so much better. I'm so glad you're in mine!

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    1. Likewise! Now, I'm not sure that the blogging a-z challenge helped me to be a better person. But maybe it did help me figure out just how much time I was willing to dedicate to blogging every day/week. Answer: not as much as I did in April.

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  6. Good for you! It sounds like a good experience for you, though I'm sure you're glad it's over..

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  7. I originally wanted to take part in this challenge, and I loooved all your posts...but it definitely would not have worked out for me. April was not the best month for me, I was already struggling with blogging even twice a week! And I totally slacked on reading other blogs, which does stress me out a little bit.
    But I am proud of your fabbity-fab A-Z blogs. It was clear you put effort into them, even if some were short! I'm glad it worked out for you :)

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    1. Isn't it funny that not reading people's blogs can be stressful? I mean...really...perspective. I don't feel insulted if people don't read my blog every day, so I certainly can't imagine that they're upset if I miss a few days of theirs.

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  8. Good on you Stephanie for sticking it out! Yours is one of the blogs I really look forward to reading, thank you for blogging :)

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    1. Thank you Julie! I would bother writing if I didn't have people like you reading! :)

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  9. i love your longer stories and usually read all the links you share so even though I was only following you for a little bit before you did this challenge, I'll be happy for your old format even if I won't have something to giggle at each day :)

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    1. Thanks Tara! i really miss link-sharing. Honestly, if I had my way, everyone would post all of their favourite links once a week. Hmmm...maybe I should try to be pushy and convince people to do that...

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  10. I think it is hard to blog everyday, so I have empathy for all those who have to and have a deadline, but your blog is so unique, the only one I can share with my husband who especially enjoys those clay figures. But I agree, I have quite a few blogs that I would either not write or write over again. Have a great and not so stressful summer! The knitting one is my favorite--all that yarn all over the place!

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    1. loverofwords, it makes me smile that you show your husband my blog! My husband only reads mine if I show it to him. And then he wants me to read all of the comments. Ha!

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  11. Glad you did it. Looking forward to the stories again.

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    1. Thanks! Looking forward to writing them.

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  12. Strong work lady, I don't think I could have made it through the whole alphabet...let alone blog everyday! lol you are a trooper!

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    1. Well, I'm not sure that I'm much of a trooper. Ha! But I am glad that I slogged by way through all the letters!

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  13. Congrats! I've loved reading your posts. :)

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    1. Thanks Dana! I'm glad you found me! :)

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  14. I am a new reader and happy about that lol. I was given a blog award a few days ago and with that I had to award 15 new blogs I had discovered...One was you!

    Anyway you don't have to accept the award if you don't want to as there is a few rules you "have" to follow but basically I'm just saying I think your blog rocks.

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    1. Thank you Carrie! I'm honoured that you chose me for an award! :) I don't usually do the memes, but I always appreciate the shout-out.

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  15. Hats off to you for doing this challenge, lady! I'm in AWE.

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    1. Really? This is all I had to do to awe you? Man, I wish I'd known earlier!

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  16. Hazzah! Well done! I for one am glad you did the challenge because that's how I found it ;) and while I also had the same overwhelming feelings throughout it... I feel like it was a great experience - even if the only new follower I gained was you ;) (Which I was kind of a little fan-girl about ;) )

    Congrats on 64!! WOW!



    xo.

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    1. What? I have a fan-girl? No way! I'm not famous enough for that. Ha! I'm glad you found me. :) And as for the 64...I think some of them also came through Yeah Write, which is an AWESOME writing community that I just found this month.

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  17. I am looking forward to normality in cyberspace and I can chill and return to blogging every day without the stress of a letter of some kind looking down on me smiling and maybe growling a bit.

    Sadly though I have a sculpture to make in the real world with a deadline of the 14th June for a rather important show. And I will be shouted at if I miss it so ............. No pressure, Ho Hum.

    I look forward to your blog as it progresses, it is WELL COOL

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    1. What are you making a sculpture of?

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  18. You are to be commended for finishing this challenge. It looked like a tough one! And I enjoyed all 26 posts. :)

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    1. Thanks Abby! I'm glad to be done, but I'm glad I did it.

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  19. You are unique, Stephanie! Even your tiny blog-posts are a lot more labor-intensive than anything the rest of us do. Good job!

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    1. Says the girl who creates some of the most fantabulous illustrated posts I've ever read..."the rest of us" indeed. Thanks Heather! Being called unique means a lot coming from you!

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  20. A big round of applause to you! I got anxiety just thinking about watching you and everyone keep up with the challenge.
    I hope you catch a break, maybe eat some okra (not sure why that one stuck with me, but it did). :)
    Have a great week Stephanie!

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    1. OKRA?!?! Pa-touie. (That's supposed to be a spitting sound. Humour me.)

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  21. You told it just the way I feel it! I love your blog and have really missed it during the A - Z challenge. I just couldn't get around to everyone and I tried to read some new blogs. As soon as I catch my breath I will be back on a regular basis!

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    1. Welcome back Kat! Writing AND reading blogs every day can be kind of overwhelming.

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  22. Just woke up and realized that it's over. What will I do with my time now? Blog, probably. I'm a loser.

    I, too, will miss your daily posts, but you deserve to lay down and take a nap. Kudos to one of the best blogs out there, lady!

    Carry on.

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    1. Ha! Funny. "I'm so glad that I don't have to blog. Now I actually have time to blog." You should get a job at the dictionary, because they seem to be missing A LOT of words.

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  23. I will miss the daily posts, but all my regular reads who were doing the A-Z Challenged resulted in the kids whining repeatedly, "you're reading blogs AGAIN?"

    And I too think I can win on Survivor.

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    1. Right? Well, except for the being cold. And hungry...I don't really like being hungry. And let's not even talk about the bugs. And also sometimes I get cranky when I'm cold and hungry. Oh, who am I kidding...I'd vote MYSELF off the island.

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  24. I doubt I can wait to post a reflections one either...in fact I probably wont post one AT ALL!! x

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    1. Ha! Laughed out loud at this. Way to be a rebel.

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  25. I knew that I would not be able to do the challenge, since my posts also take longer than average to put together. I tried to read new blogs, though, and it has worn me out.

    You did great and congrats on finishing!

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    1. Thanks! :) Honestly, I think it's hard to do with an illustrated blog. Blogs with pictures take a lot longer than blogs with words/photos. I used to have a different blog and I posted there almost every day, but it's really not comparable to this one in terms of time.

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  26. Despite all the maddening stories I have heard, I will still tackle it next year.

    Congratulations on your finish.

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    1. If you write it, then I'll read it!

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  27. I love your blog! Have had a look at every one of your A-Z posts because they're all brilliant! When I check my blog, I look at view counts, comments, then your new post. You are high up on my priority list! I check you before I check my facebook page!
    <3 :D
    M. x

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    1. That's so sweet! I'm really glad you enjoy my blog. And hey...you could always follow me on facebook and kill 2 birds with one stone*! Ha!

      *This is a figure of speech. I do not condone the senseless killing of birds.

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  28. Excellent job - and now, if you're short on ideas, you can revisit some of the ones you wanted to spend more time on. I love all your posts regardless of length!

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    1. Maybe I will! I'm thinking I've done so many zombie posts since I started blogging...I really need to give equal air time to aliens.

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  29. Like you, I would have curled up like a boiled shrimp at the end. Unlike you I wouldn't have started crawling for days. I couldn't have done it. I enjoyed your blog the last 26 days and wasn't disappointed.

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    1. Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it! I'm quite looking forward to writing more blog stories, now that I know that I don't have to put up a new one every day.

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  30. I have had a heck of a time keeping up with the blogs I follow..the ones doing the challenge and the others since I suddenly had more to read/comment on as well. I definitely enjoyed reading the posts and was a little wistful that I didn't participate (would have made me crazed this time around).

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    1. You could do it next year...do a different book for every letter of the alphabet. I'd read it!

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  31. I think you kicked ass! There were even days when the kids would ask what you had for a letter, the hubs too. Anything thaT gets us giggling and talking together is a win in my world. I think it might even be time to start referring to you as stephanie, as opposed to the clay lady. I appreciate your honesty in your challenge recap. Congrats on all of the new followers! The Easter candy one still just makes me laugh out loud (not just lol...really and truly laugh out loud!)

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    1. Have I really leveled up from clay lady to stephanie? Oh, happy days! Haha!

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  32. Good for you to make it all the way to the end. In the last week or so i've sort of been wishing that i had gotten involved in this. Then i looked and saw i only did 16 posts this month. This probably would have killed me. :)

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    1. I think you could definitely pull it off. Maybe next year!

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  33. I'm sure I would have eventually found your blog, but I'm glad you visited my blog during the challenge and then I in turn found your blog because I enjoyed reading your last few A/Z entries and looking forward to sticking around when you get back to your regular blogging style. I didn't realize we were supposed to do a recap post, I better go back and think about doing one. I pretty much learned what you learned; up until this challenge I was usually a once or twice a week entry maker but read my favorites daily. This every day was a bit too much too at times, I wrote several days in advance to have on store and made sure I had a few with pictures to even things out. I'm not sure too if I'm going to do it next year but it was fun this year! WTG for finishing!@!

    betty

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    1. Thanks Betty! Congratulations to you - and your corgi - too!

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  34. Great job, Stephanie! And good to have you back to your normal self :)

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    1. If I could ever be considered "normal"... Ha!

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  35. Stephanie, I thoroughly enjoyed your fabulous blog before the A-Z challenge and just kept right on enjoying each post as you went through your ABCs. I must tell you, I think you're being too hard on yourself because the enjoyability quotient was certainly right up there for each and every letter! :)

    Since I also have an illustrated blog, I can truly appreciate the time and effort you put into this project, and admire you for posting daily. Whether it's clay figures or drawings, the creation time is great. I simply never could have done it and I'll always wonder how you managed completing this without going crazy! LOL

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    1. Thank you friend! That said...your "A-Z in just one post" probably took you as much time as my whole alphabet. If you'd broken it up into 26 different posts, then you could definitely have done it!

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  36. I learned about your blog from Susan, Super Earthling, who co-incidently has commented above. The challenge seems exhausting well done for making it through and thank you for commenting on mine. I really enjoy your clay monkeys.

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  37. Congrats on reaching the finishing line with such entertaining posts!
    It was nice meeting you Stephanie. And thank you for your encouraging comments on my blog. I really appreciate it!
    I will do the A to Z challenge again - but don't know if I'd post fiction pieces... it was a bit nerve-wracking!
    I will pop in regularly, to see what new mischief the clay-people are up to!

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  38. You did SO good. I LOVED it! Well done! and welcome back to the real world! Bravo! Bravo!

    Love Elle xo

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  39. Check out my A to Z Reflections post (linking it to this comment). I've given you a shout out... actually 2X!

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  40. Yay! I'm glad you survived. I'm going to go read your last few posts (I was keeping up with you, reading all your posts every day. But, I've been slack over the last week or so and have missed some of your last few letters).

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  41. Yes it was exhausting, wasn't it? But I did enjoy it. Loved finding your blog and looking forward to reading more 'normal' posts LOL

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  42. I'm breathing a sigh of relief that the challenge is over. I enjoyed it, but it's good to get back to the normal flow of things. If it had gone a day longer, I'd have been curled up like your figurine.

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  43. Thanks for the PicMonkey tip :-)

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  44. Congrats! I found your blog later in the month, but it was really entertaining to read and I will continue to read in the future!

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  45. I've been hearing about your blog all over the place, you made an impact during the challenge!

    congrats on finishing

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  46. Congratulation on finishing the challenge. During the challenge I didn't visit as many blogs as I would like to but, cross my heart, I'm visiting every single one with the reflection post! I am so glad my journey brought me here.

    Evalina, This and that...

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