82. as·pi·ra·tion

An aspiration is defined as “a hope or ambition of achieving something”.  There are a number of things I would like to achieve this year…in all facets of my life, be it personal or professional.  This is my year to do great things and to make an impact on the world around me, I can just feel it.  It’s this tingly sensation right below my skin.

Here’s a short list of my aspirations for 2016:

  1. Save up money.
  2. Put a down payment on a house with said money.
  3. Continue to pay off debt.  (I hate you, Student Loans.)
  4. Write & release more music.
  5. Travel more.
  6. Finish the half-cooked craft/DIY projects on my to-do list.
  7. Write more blog posts.  (Goal: At least 5 per month.)
  8. Publish a booklet of original knitting patterns.
  9. Find beauty, love, and happiness in each day. 🙂

(Doesn’t a list of aspirations sound way less cliche than a list of “New Year’s Resolutions”?)

This may seem like a daunting list to some people, but I truly believe I can do it!  Some of these are personal goals I’ve had for a LONG time, I just never made a serious effort to accomplish them.  I’m done with that kind of attitude.  If I want things to happen, I have to go out and make them happen.  Putting this in writing will also help to keep my accountable; these are basically promises I’m making to myself, and I can’t let me down.


What are some of your aspirations for 2016?


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81. See ya later, 2015.

Happy 2016, everyone!  I love these little “reports” from WordPress.  Enjoy!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 150,000 times in 2015. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 6 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

76. The waiting game, i.e. how I got a job in academia.

Hey, guess what? I got a new job! My official title is “Director of First Year Chemistry Laboratories/Instructor”. I’m not sure if it’s appropriate for me to say which specific university I work at, but I can tell you it’s in Milwaukee. I started yesterday, and I think it’s going to be a great fit for my personality, much more so than working at a bench top. I am in charge of running/developing the first year lab curriculum, training and evaluating teaching assistants, and teaching courses during the spring and summer terms. Basically, I get to do exactly what I’ve wanted to do since I started college in 2003!

I know a lot of people struggle with the job application process after getting their PhD. Personally, I had no idea how to go about getting a position in academia that allowed me to teach without having to run my own lab. (I should note that these positions are few and far between, and I just happened to be applying at exactly the right time.) Though this post isn’t typically what I write about, I thought maybe the process I went through might help someone else on their career path.

There is always an opportunity to use an IASIP meme. ALWAYS.

In order to teach at the college level full-time, you are going to need teaching experience. I know that’s sometimes easier said than done, but it’s not impossible! Since I did my PhD at a free-standing medical college (i.e. one not attached to an institution with undergraduate programs), there were no in-house opportunities to teach college students. I ended up applying to a small college about 25 minutes from Milwaukee that was looking for adjunct lab instructors. Although they were looking for someone with a Masters degree, I was able to justify my application by pointing out the fact that I had finished all of my graduate coursework and had three years of research experience, which is about what you would have upon completion of a Masters degree. I got the job, and continued to teach there (off and on) through graduation and my 2.5 years as a postdoctoral fellow (about 4 years total).

Speaking of being a postdoc…it just wasn’t for me.  The whole “publish or perish” mantra, being expected (in general) to work 6 to 7 days a week on a mediocre salary, the idea that women in research who enjoy dressing fashionably or doing their makeup and hair were not “serious” about their careers…it drove me nuts and stressed me out.  I could tell you LOADS of stories about times I felt insulted or demeaned, and the worst part is that it came from colleagues and other PIs, NEVER from my own bosses! (Aside: I seriously LOVED both my grad mentor and my postdoc advisor.  They were both kind, supportive, amazing people, and I would work for either of them again in a heartbeat if it didn’t require to me to work at the bench.) I will say that the majority of people that I worked with or encountered were fantastic people, but it’s always the ones who are awful sticking in our memories, right?  Anyway, after about a year of research projects not working out and feeling isolated (most of my time was spent working by myself), I decided to start looking for a new job.

This brings me to my next point about the job search: Look early and look often, especially if you don’t want to have to relocate for a new job. My husband and I weren’t financially in a position to pack up and move across country, so I limited my search to southeastern Wisconsin.  I checked about once a week for about a year before I found postings for which I was [mostly] qualified.  I applied to several positions, some of them in academia, some not. I interviewed for three positions at different companies.  I was offered one job, but declined because the environment would have been terrible (and the lady was f*cking nuts…that’s a different story).  I was also “offered” a part-time teaching position at a community college, but I basically got told that I would just be put into a pool of other instructors and would only be called upon if one of the regular instructors went on leave or quit.  Uh, no thanks.

I applied to my current position on December 7th, 2014, about 2 weeks after the position had been posted. There was no closing date on the listing (this is not the norm for academic positions), so I contacted HR to make sure they had received all of my application materials after about 3 weeks without hearing anything back. I got no response.

Fast forward about TWO MONTHS.  I get an email from the department administrator.  She says she’s going through all the applications, and mine is missing a reference letter. I freak out and email my boss at my part-time teaching gig.  He says he “forgot” to send it, so I “politely” ask him to send it that day.  I don’t hear anything from her for about another week, so I email to make sure the department received his ridiculously delinquent letter.  We did, she says, and now your application is complete.  That was it.  I didn’t hear anything for a while after that, so I just assumed they weren’t interested in me and continued looking for jobs.

Fast forward again.  On March 9, 2015…yes, THREE MONTHS after my initial application…I get an email from the department chair.  I made the first cut!  He wanted to do a phone interview sometime that week, which we did.  I thought it went pretty well, and he said he would contact me within two weeks to let me know whether the search committee wanted to bring me in for a formal interview.  Three weeks went by.  I felt awkward emailing AGAIN, but I did.  He informed me that a faculty member had passed away suddenly and he was helping to cover her classes for the remainder of the semester; he said he’d be in touch shortly with the committee’s decision.  Another two weeks passed.

I finally got the good news on April 20th (yep, we’re over the FOUR MONTH mark now) that the department wanted to bring me on campus for a full-day interview.  My interview was on May 7, 2015, FIVE MONTHS after my application was submitted.  Overall, it went down like this:

1. Arrived at department and met with chair for a tour.
2. Individual meetings with two different faculty members.
3. Gave a teaching demonstration.
4. Had lunch with graduate students.
5. Individual meetings with three additional faculty members.
6. Met with search committee (department chair plus two more faculty members).

The interview went so, so well.  I seriously walked back to the parking garage feeling like a rock star!  They must have felt the same vibe, because I was given a job offer relatively quickly: my interview was on Thursday, another candidate interviewed on Monday, and they offered me the job on Wednesday.  Woohoo!

I did negotiate a slightly higher salary than what was suggested in my initial offer letter.  It felt a little awkward, but definitely worth it as they gave me an extra 5% over the first offer.  IF YOU THINK YOUR EDUCATION AND/OR EXPERIENCE IS WORTH MORE MONEY, ASK FOR IT.  The worse they can say is no, and, as long as you are tactful and give a thorough, thoughtful explanation for the request, they’re not going to rescind the job offer; they did choose you over the other candidates, after all. I also had to consider that all of my future raises would be a much smaller percentage in comparison to this initial boost in salary (I’m getting a 25% bump overall!), so I wanted to start as high as possible right from the start. There is already disparity in salaries between men and women, and I recently read the majority of women don’t even think to ask for more money because we have it drilled into our heads that it’s rude to speak up. Don’t let it be you!  Get it, girl.

After negotiations, I received the “official” offer letter and contract, which included my start date. I’m really excited to start over from scratch at a job that actually makes me want to get out of bed in the morning!

I apologize for the novel, folks, but I do hope this helped someone (anyone!).  Please make sure to send me questions if you have any, I’d be happy to speak with you AT LENGTH about the whole process.  I mean, if you’re not exhausted after reading this post. 😉


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73. I’ve made a big decision.

Drum roll, please…

After three-and-a-half years, I have made the huge decision to close up my Etsy shop.  It’s a bittersweet feeling: I really love making jewelry, but it’s a lot of work to constantly update listings, take and edit product photos, create and stock new inventory, register for craft fairs, etc.  Fun, but again, a LOT of work for not much return.

As you may remember, I’ve been writing music and performing with a new band.  I’ve decided that this venture is WAY more important to me, and I’d rather spend any “extra” time I have honing my craft and promoting our work.  I feel really good about this decision, and I hope you’ll support me in it as well!

I am now, however, left with a TON of product that I need to move so I can close out my shop.  As such, I’ve marked EVERY SINGLE ITEM in my store down to $5 a piece!

You can take a look at what I have left here:

Shipping is FREE for U.S. orders $25 and over, too!  Just use the code FREESHIP25 at checkout.

To those of you who have ever supported La Piuma Bella: THANK YOU.  You made it fun and exciting for me, and I will forever appreciate your positive feedback and encouraging comments.

It’s time to move on to the next chapter of my life, and I’m extremely excited.  Woo!


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71. 2014 in review.

WordPress now sends a cute little report to each of it’s bloggers.  I thought you might be interested in seeing mine! 🙂

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 40,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 15 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

I wish you the best of luck in 2015!


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69. New jewelry listed on Etsy.

If you remember from a previous post, I design and create jewelry and sell it on Etsy.

I’m FINALLY getting around to photographing a bunch of jewelry I made weeks…maybe months…ago.  Luckily,  I happen to be borrowing our landlords’ Canon D3000 (thanks, Mike and Erin!) for a few days, and let me tell you: it is AMAZING to shoot my products with a REAL camera!  They look like 9813274012 times better. Fah. Realz.

I renewed a bunch of expired listings today, but I also managed to get photos edited for 5 newer pieces (and also get them posted).

Let the prettiness begin!

First up, a lovely little glass vial strung on a copper chain…and FILLED with glitter.  It’s like carrying a bunch of fairy dust around with you.

Buy it on Etsy here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/212927218/bronze-glitter-vial-necklace-fairy-dust

Next up, a flirty bar-style necklace strung with faceted glass beads in a cool shade of mint green.  I shall call you, “little mint julep”.

Buy it on Etsy here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/212940829/mint-green-beaded-bar-necklace

Third, this fun little beaded number that is perfect for layering with other necklaces.

Buy it on Etsy here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/212937800/colorful-wood-bead-necklace

Next, I give you what I like to call the domino necklace: black and white Czech glass rectangles stacked on gold chain.  This was definitely a design that had me thinking outside the box.

Buy it on Etsy here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/212943264/black-and-white-domino-ladder-necklace

Last, but certainly not least, comes this hot little number.  I love geometric designs with a hint of tribal/bohemian influence, and this certainly fits the bill.

Find it on Etsy here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/212955587/blue-geometric-triangle-necklace

These are just a few of my new designs, but I wanted my readers to be the first to see them!  The best part…each necklace is only $15 or less.  Bonus: since it’s a crazy shopping weekend, I’ve decided to host a sale in my shop…just enter the code BLACKFRI14 at checkout to receive 20% off any purchase $25 or more!  The code is good TODAY through Monday (12/1/14), so you don’t even have to shop on Black Friday.  Unless you’re into that nonsense.  Me…I prefer shopping in my PJs with a nice cup carafe of coffee.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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68. You should listen to this.

Time for some shameless self-promotion!

Not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I am a musician.  I play guitar, sing, and write music.  Back in June, my husband and I decided to start a band.  We started writing new material, and found a fantastic drummer named Paul in July.  It took a few months, but we finally found a bassist (Andrew) and decided on a name: Faux Fiction.  It just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

Last Saturday, we spent 12 hours at Cherry Pit Studios recording our first song, “Dead Weight”.  I am unbelievably proud about how it turned out, and I want everyone to hear it!  EVERYONE.  Including all of my lovely readers. 🙂

If you would do me such an honor, you can listen to our track here:

If you are feeling extra generous, you could follow us on Facebook and Twitter, too!

Thank you for allowing me this self-indulgence.  Not that you really had a choice, but if you made it to the end of this post, I love you.  And I’d love to know what you think!



67. I love getting rave reviews!

A few weeks back, I got a custom order request from a blogger.  She needed earrings for her bridesmaids and flower girls…8 pairs to be exact!  We chatted back a forth for a while discussing options and choosing just the right shade of red.

Long story short, she loved them and wrote a FANTASTIC review for my Etsy shop!  You can read all about it here.

Not to toot my own horn…um, you know what?  I’m tooting it.  Loudly.  I deserve that, right?

I hope everyone is having a great week!  Stay tuned for my Halloween mantle decoration!


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64. Shame on me.

Holy #$%^, I am really a terrible blogger, aren’t I?  I haven’t written anything in two months!  I swear I have some good excuses, but I won’t list them.  Okay, maybe I’ll just mention that I had a summer student I had to create a project for and occupy for the past 10 weeks.  And two more jewelry shows.  And a handful more that I’m preparing for over the next 5 months.  And I made a ton of new stuff for my Etsy shop, all of which is slowly getting photographed and listed.  And I started a band with my husband and a new drummer and we’ve been practicing twice a week.

Nope, I haven’t been busy at all. 😉

Anyway, the real purpose of this post is for me to give a formal apology.  So, here it goes: I’m sorry!  I’m so sorry for anyone who has been anxiously awaiting a message in her inbox announcing that I have a new post.  (Are there any of you?  Anyone?) I hope you’ll still read about my crazy crafting adventures and attempts to build my own furniture.

I honestly didn’t realize how long it’s been since my last post.  Not until last week’s email asking me if I was ever going to do a full post for our knockoff Restoration Hardware platform bed.  Answer: Yes, I am!  And soon!  I promise.  (Fah realz this time.)

So, what’s new with all of you cool cats?  Anyone make anything fancy lately?

I’ll be back…tomorrow!


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63. My first jewelry show is Friday!

My Etsy shop has been open for almost three years, but I’ve never made the steps to show my work at craft fairs and markets.  Until now!  My very FIRST jewelry show is this Friday at Bay View Gallery Night! Here’s a link to the event if you’re in the Milwaukee area and would like to stop by: https://www.facebook.com/events/141921984168333

I’m so excited for people to be able to see and touch my items in person.  It really makes a difference in terms of whether or not I’d buy something, so hopefully that translates to other people as well.  Crossing my fingers that I make some sales!

I’m really trying to make sure that my displays are on point, so I’ll be sharing my ideas (and how you can make these displays for yourself) all this week!

Here are a few sneak peeks to tickle yo’ fancy.

Wooden crate jewelry organizer:

crate jewelry storage

Recycled wine crate headband holder:

wine crate storage

I also have an old window frame that I’ll be converting into a necklace display.  The best part: it was FREE!  I totally trash-picked to get it, but it was just laying on the sidewalk begging for me to bring it home.

I hope this got your Monday started off the right way!