77. Whoops.

Life caught up with me, and I [obviously] haven’t written anything in a longgggg time.  My bad.

Anyway, my new job is going really well.  I’m having a blast, actually!  Now that I’m back in the swing of things and used to my new schedule, I can get back to doing all kinds of fun projects.  The newest one?  A gorgeous tall shelf that I pulled out of my neighbor’s garbage.  That’s right folks: Yours truly has now become a trash picker!  In my defense, this shelf is still in great condition.

Free shelf? Worddddd.

Free shelf? Worddddd.

See!  Why on earth would you just put this to the curb?!  There are a few minor nicks and a water mark or two, but other than that, there’s really nothing wrong with it.  If it were me, I would have at least dropped this off at Goodwill so someone else could maybe get some use out of it.  I’ll never understand why people insist on being so wasteful.

I already have big plans for this baby, but you’ll just to have wait and find out what they are when I post about the finished product. 😉

I also plan to write about more than just my DIY projects.  I’ve got too many interests…I’m excited about them all and want to share them with you!  I know it’s considered a “no-no” in the blogiverse to write about more than one topic/theme, but honestly…IDGAF.  It’s my life, and my blog, and I can write about whatever I want, yo!  If I wear a cute outfit, I’ll write about it.  If I redo a piece of furniture, I’ll write about it.  If I played an awesome show with my band…you guessed it, I’ll write about it.  All of those things are part of my life and my persona, so of course I would mention them!


Okay, rant over.

Have a lovely evening, kittens!


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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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75. OMG, you guys, I’m SO popularrr.

My bridal sash was featured on yet another website!

When I first wrote that tutorial, I seriously NEVER thought it would get shared so much!  It’s pretty cool to think that it’s inspiring brides around the globe to make their own instead of shelling out a ridiculous amount of money.
You go, brides, you go.

Stay tuned for more tutorials, I’ve got a bunch in the works.  🙂


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74. Published on Yahoo! (plus, response to snarky comments)

So, remember when I wrote that tutorial for my bridal sash?  And then it got published to The Knot’s website and I freaked out?  Well, it’s happened again.  Yesterday, Yahoo! Makers reposted the Knot’s article to their site, and I’ve had so many new visitors.  Hi, there!  It’s nice to meet you.  Welcome to my craziness.  *waves frantically while flashing a cheesy/creepy grin*

Here’s the link to the Yahoo! piece: https://www.yahoo.com/makers/make-these-6-diy-wedding-day-accessories-108117394615.html

However, I made the huge mistake of reading the comments.  Why do I do this to myself?!  It never ceases to amaze me that some people just always have something rude to say and often will go out of their way to do so.  I don’t normally call people out over the internet, but I’m just so tired of seeing awful comments after EVERY article I read. *puts on snappy comeback hat* (Don’t worry, it’s a freaking FABULOUS hat.)

Exhibit A:

“You know what brides to be??? Sorry to be a negative nancy, no one is really going to remember your wedding but you, your groom, the parents and maybe the wedding party. They may remember that they think you spent way too much on stupid stuff. The only things I remember about the last few weddings I went to are the FOOD. Our niece’s wedding dinner was fantastic. The one before her’s? Horrible food- cold, over cooked, bland. That people remember. Skip the silly butterfly releases, overly ornate decorations, and go back to the basics. Get a pretty dress, find the best caterer you can afford, and get some serious pre-marital counseling. It’ll serve you better in the long run.” – Nancy

Gee, “Nancy”, thanks for letting me know that the whole purpose of my wedding is to throw a party for YOU!  And here I thought it was about getting our families together in one room to witness our commitment to each other.  But, hey, it’s no skin off my back.  I had a GREAT time at my wedding, and I’m sure that our guests did, too.  The food was good, the music was good, and the venue was beautiful.  I loved my dress and all the things that I made, and even if no one else remembers them, I do!  And it makes me smile! EVERY. DAMN. TIME.

Exhibit B:

“Unimpressed. Seems like a pain to make these when you can buy something better looking for not a lot of money.” – Kat

Actually, the sash I made literally took me 5 minutes and saved me about $200 on something I will definitely only use once.  Not a pain at all and seriously the easiest wedding project I took on.  And, frankly, I made the sash I made because I liked it, not to impress anyone else.  I just put a tutorial out there in case anyone might want to do the same thing.  You might have realized that if you had actually looked at my blog, but whatevs, only cool people come here anyway.  *z-snaps all up in yo’ face*

Exhibit C:

“Here’s some advice: Don’t go overboard. The only thing ANY of your guests will notice or care about is the food. They aren’t going to remember your dress, your hair, what the colors were, the ceremony, the music …. NOTHING. Twenty minutes after it’s over, poof … so is their memory. Unless, of course, the food sucked and there wasn’t enough of it. THAT they will remember for years.” – Karen

Again with the food.  Is that really all you care about when attending someone’s wedding?!  What if all I could afford to serve was cake and lemonade?  I would love to hear this woman’s response on that one.


I didn’t do ANY of the things I did because I was trying to “impress” my guests.  I did it because it was what we wanted to remember! Of course no one is going to care about your wedding as much as you do, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend your entire budget on food and entertainment if that’s not what you want to do.  I guess everyone just wants to be an “expert” in wedding etiquette

Do what you want.  It’s your wedding.  If someone wants to get her panties in a bunch because your decorations are overkill or your food isn’t “up to par”, let her…and then go on with your awesomely wonderful day! #byefelicia

THANK YOU to everyone who has been supportive of my posts…I do it because it’s fun and I just want to share what I do!  I know not everyone will like my tutorials or projects, but I definitely appreciate when you go out of your way to tell me that you do. 🙂

In conclusion:



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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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72. DIY Wedding: Table Runners

So, I haven’t done one of these posts in a LONG time.  We’ll be married three years this May, and I still have a few of these left up my sleeve.  I got an email the other day asking about our table runners and whether I had written up a tutorial for them…and I haven’t.  I decided to write up some easy instructions in case anyone else was interested!

DIY Fabric Table Runners

First, I picked out some fabric.  I decided to go with cotton, mostly because the print I happened to like was on cotton fabric, but also because it’s the easiest to iron and sew.  I purchased my fabric from fabric.com.


I ended up making about a dozen table runners, each measuring 13″ x 72″ (please note: these are the final measurements AFTER the sewing was finished).  You can make yours narrower or wider, but this worked out well for me because the fabric I chose was 42″ wide and fit three runners across perfectly.

I cut out long rectangles measuring 14″ x 73″.  Next, I ironed a 1/2″ hem down each of the longer sides and sewed a seam down each side.  Then, I repeated this process on each of the shorter sides.  Finally, I ironed the table runners and rolled them up until we were ready to use them.  THAT’S IT.  Easy peasy.


If you have basic sewing machine skills, and you know your way around a tape measure and scissors, this project should be a piece of cake.  It just takes up a chunk of your time!

Thanks for reading, I’ll try to post the last of my wedding projects over the next few weeks!


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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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