Today my blog turns 10, and I thought it was important to take a moment to indulge in this online career milestone by giving you a bit of a behind-the-scenes look at some of my blogging accomplishments. Thank you so much for following along and making all of this possible! I started this blog on a whim with no idea how much it would change the course of my life. I have never taken this gig for granted and am so grateful for all you have given to me over the years. Happy Birthday Home Stories A to Z!
How the Blog Began
Today marks the tenth anniversary of beginning my blog! Back then this blog was named, “The Stories of A to Z” and chronicled my stories of parenting Asher (my A) and Zephan (my Z).
I was a 33 year old mother of two and had just left my school counseling job outside of Philadelphia to move to Harrisburg, PA to try my hand at being a stay-at-home mom. I helped design and bring back to life our 100 year old row home with some college friends who were trying their hand at the home-flipping business. I was so inspired by their entrepreneurial skills and began working with them on picking out paint colors and suggesting design elements for other flips in our neighborhood. Helping them truly changed my life and gave me the confidence to think like an entrepreneur! My blog stories about mothering my babies quickly changed to blog posts about paint colors and home design. My passion for decorating and living creatively was something that came naturally to me and the blog gave me the outlet to share it on a grander scale.
A year into blogging I discovered “DIY home bloggers”, a group of bloggers who blogged about decorating their homes, creating crafts for the home, spray painting anything that didn’t move, and using copious amounts of chalkboard paint. I was hooked! These were my people. I felt like I had found the greatest treasure on earth and I embraced this online world with my whole heart!
I changed my blog name to “Home Stories A to Z” and I joined the party. I blogged for the sheer thrill of receiving comments on my blog from people I didn’t know, and the opportunity to connect with like-minded women across the world. I never blogged with money or business in mind. Very few of us back then did. We did it for the sheer passion of sharing our gifts and talents with others–and that passion has fueled this blog for a decade! Money follows passion and not the other way around. I am a firm believer in this mantra and believe it’s why so many of us from the beginning of home blogging are still burning bright today.
Working with Brands & Blogging Highlights
Over the last decade, my blog has opened so many amazing opportunities for me. Here is a recap of some of the brands I’ve worked with over the years and a few other blogging highlights worth noting.
It was my first brand event ever and I was terrified. Who the heck was I to be meeting executives and TJ Maxx and HomeGoods? I was so nervous on the plane ride that I wanted to throw up. At the event, I met Laurie Turk from Tip Junkie and shortly thereafter began working for her as a Virtual Assistant. Laurie was an incredible business woman from the inception of her blog and she pushed me to think of my blog as a business.
A year into blogging it was a dream of mine to see a blogging conference begin that was just for our home blogger niche. There were only a handful of blogging conferences at the time and none that were niche-focused. I emailed a bunch of home/DIY bloggers asking if there was interest in starting a DIY home blogging conference, but I was ill-prepared in knowing where to begin in planning for one. A year later, Rhoda from Southern Hospitality took the reigns with the help of an event planner and the Haven Conference was born! Haven was a dream realized for me. I stepped down from the Haven Team two years ago due to family issues but remain incredibly proud of my part in creating this amazing national conference!
I drove a mustang, a police car, sat on the 50 yard line at Ford Field, and learned about the motor industry. My parents were born and raised in Detroit, MI so it was fun to be wined and dined in my parents’ hometown on behalf of Ford.
It was fascinating to meet the Ballard Design staff, tour the incredible prop room, and see all the tremendously hard work that goes into creating a catalog.
For four years, I partnered with Lowe’s and completed monthly challenges that were often featured in the Lowe’s Creative Ideas magazine. The posts I did for Lowe’s are still some of the most creative posts on my blog. The partnership forced me to think outside the box and really pushed me to come up with creative content. I am most proud of the 24 hour spring porch makeover we did for a deserving family! This was such a fun, rewarding, and exhausting challenge!
Rustoleum invited a bunch of bloggers to learn about their latest spray paints and stains. I still utilize some of the staining techniques I learned at this event! Spending time with good blog friends at these events is priceless. Blogging has given me best friends across the nation.
2013–Traveled with Homes.com to Atlanta, GA for a charity event renovating the dining hall of a shelter.
I worked as a brand ambassador for Homes.com for four years and was asked to take lead of their charity event. It was a tremendously rewarding experience to transform a dingy dining hall into a bright and kid-friendly space. Upon seeing the makeover, one little boy who lived at the shelter declared, “Oh wow! It now looks like a real home!” I promptly burst into tears.
I had 24 hours to bring a blank room to life using La-Z-Boy products! While I didn’t win this room makeover challenge, I did learn a ton about shooting a room for advertising. It was one of the most fun blog events to date!
2014 & 2015–Traveled to NYC for Better Homes & Gardens Stylemaker events.
I’ve been nominated a BHG Stylemaker in 2014, 2015, 2016 & 2017. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to make it to the Stylemaker event the last two years, but it’s always a wonderful time! Learning how to style flowers and photograph food are two skills I improved in after attending the events.
Oh and I met Nate Berkus while there!
I always like to push myself on the blog and I knew working with fabric would do just that! I worked as a Waverly fabric brand ambassador and loved the challenge of decorating creatively with fabrics.
2016–Became a brand ambassador for Better Homes & Gardens at Walmart and toured BH&G’s headquarters in Des Moines, IA.
I’m proud to continue my partnership with Better Homes & Gardens this year! In this picture below we had 30 minutes to create a centerpiece utilizing BHG kitchenware at the BHG headquarters in Des Moines.
Shaw Floors has been a dream brand to partner with! Their products are gorgeous and durable and the people behind the brand are absolute gems. I will truly miss working with them this year!
2016–Participated in Delta Faucet’s A Day of Inspired Design Contest and WON!
It’s not everyday that you can say your design won a full bathroom makeover! Our farmhouse bathroom began as a simple entry on a poster board at an event sponsored by Delta Faucet and ended as my dream bathroom. It was painful that I had to sell our home and part with my new bathroom just a few months later, but the experience of designing and renovating a bathroom was good for me. Pulling off this renovation was so filled with challenges and it taught me a lot!
Featured in Numerous Magazines
Over the years I’ve had the privilege of being featured in print in numerous magazines including: Better Homes & Gardens, Country Sampler, Better Homes & Gardens Halloween, People Magazine, This Old House, Women’s Day, All You, Kitchens + Baths, and Women’s World.
What’s Next for Home Stories A to Z?
With a fresh decade of blogging ahead of me, I’m excited to see where the path will take me. I have a new home in a new setting to decorate and will continue to share my home stories with all of you! I never would have been able to anticipate all of the blessings the business of blogging would bring into my family’s life.
I started blogging before Facebook had algorithms, before they even had business pages, before Pinterest existed, and long before Instagram had influencers. These platforms have significantly changed the face of blogging for better and for worse and the key to staying relevant through it all has always been the same. Stay passionate and true! I can’t really foresee what might transpire in the next decade, but my commitment to creating beauty out of chaos through affordable living is stronger and more skilled than ever. I look forward to a new decade and thank you from the bottom of my heart for journeying along with me!