Quote of the Day:  Those who decide to use leisure as a means of mental development, who love good music, good books, good pictures, good plays, good company, good conversation – what are they? They are the happiest people in the world. William Lyon Phelps

The Biker chef and I would add to that: and good food! We really enjoyed working on the A to Z Challenge this year together. With the exception of a few guest posts (thanks, Guests) and a couple that I whipped up on my own, we worked together. I told the Chef that I should write his memoirs. He said, “It looks like you already are.” I’m sneaky like that. All of the challenge posts are under the heading Dine off the Page. Our favorite posts were the ones that included personal and family history, like the Kaiserhoff Restaurant in New Ulm, Schell’s Brewery, and the Aalgaard version of Ice Cream Pie. Bread, meat, beer, and butter are the four main food groups, says the Chef, and the posts that he likes the most. The most successful post was on The Landing Restaurant. The editor from the Lake Country Journal read that post and asked me to expand on it for an upcoming issue. I called the owners/chef, had a lovely chat with them, and the article will run in the July/August issue. So, yes, I got a paying gig out of the deal. Sweet! And, thanks Jodi!



Overall, it was a great challenge. The Chef and I got to know each other better. He called it a bonding experience, and I agree. It gave us the opportunity to work together, combining our greatest interests and talents. Thanks, Chef, I couldn’t have done it without you. For the most part, I enjoyed writing daily. The first week, we had the posts scheduled. After that, it was day by day. Some days, I had to wait for him, or until morning when I had more energy. I prefer writing in the mornings. Since I used Dine off the Page for the challenge, I could pop in a few extra posts under this heading, Play off the Page, which included a few entertainment reviews.

I got around to other bloggers pretty well. I could have done better. Most of the time, I used the links provided in the thread from each of the letters in the facebook page for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. It was a guarantee that they were legit bloggers and posting. I thought that was a brilliant idea! Comments seemed a little down this year for me. Part of the reason was technical difficulties on my part. A few blogger friends let me know that they’d had trouble posting comments. My website is fairly new, and it’s the first very active blogging website that my designer has worked on. He switched servers and other options, and some of the switches caused glitches, and most weren’t his fault. Thank you, Corey, for all the extra effort you put in to make my website look so great and be easier to navigate. Overall, I had many views and readers. Most people don’t leave comments unless they are also bloggers, but I did run into people on the street, so to speak, who said they enjoy reading my posts. The Chef’s brother is probably our biggest fan (thanks!), and I know other family members and friends pop in often.

One note about switching from blogger to wordpress/website is that the following is different. You can follow via facebook, or sign up for email notifications. I started using Feedly, and I love it. It’s similar to the Reader option that Google once had, then removed. The only thing is, the bloggers don’t know that you’ve added their blogs to your Feedly list unless you tell them, and it doesn’t add up on the side in a tidy box. Still, I found that while the followers added up, the comments didn’t really increase. It’s a game: I follow you. You follow me. And, we both look good. But, if the content doesn’t appeal to them, they never stop back.

Thanks to all the hosts for this challenge. Congrats to everyone who participated. Doing and completing the challenge proves one thing: You CAN write daily and produce great content. Keep it up, and you’ll find success!

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt:  What’s your theme for next year? Even if you’re not a blogger, what would you focus on?