MINI PENNY: October 2012

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What's New, Pussycat?

So, Hurricane Sandy has passed us and left Philadelphia pretty tame. I wish I could say the same for my friends in New York. Lou and I spent the entire day inside yesterday — and I was admittedly horrified. The only experience I've ever had with hurricanes is the relief work I did post-Hurricane Katrina. So, yeah, I've seen how ugly it can be. I was glued to Twitter watching updates from all over.

But, Sandy seemed detour around Philly. We got wind and rains, but nothing too bad. SEPTA (our public transit system) opened back up today at noon and we ventured into Center City to get some lunch.

Speaking of SEPTA, I've discovered how much it isn't like the Chicago CTA. You have to use tokens (TOKENS?!) and it's sort of [really] dirty. And scary. I think I'll at least just stick to the trains.

So, aside from that, we ended up at Su Xing House. Their menu was all vegetarian. I got the bean curd with black bean sauce and Lou opted for the sesame seitan. Both were pretty amazing and really hit the spot. And who can hate on any place that gives fortune cookies...?

So a big thanks goes out to my temporary roommate, Lou Caltabiano, for taking these photos. He really does great work and I'm excited for us to collaborate together on some projects!

Cat Sweater, Forever21
Chain necklace, Forever 21
Silver Choker, Urban Outfitters Surplus
Sheer collared shirt, Urban Outfitters Surplus
Faux Leather Leggings, Second Hand
D&O Faux Suede Heels, Urban Outfitters Surplus
Camo Surplus Jacket, Belmont Army Surplus
Skull bracelets, Urban Outfitters

Cat Camera

Last week I stumbled upon this disposable film camera at Urban Outfitters. I knew I had to pick it up for my going away party last week. The reason? It had cats all over it.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The New Tattoo

I was planning on saving this post until it was fully healed, but I've been getting some questions about the new tattoo that popped up in my recent Philadelphia post.

It's pretty obvious that Chicago was a huge part of my life and growing experience, and when I found out that I would be moving away I knew I wanted to get a "Chicago" tattoo. It's been nearly two years since I've had any work done.  While I like the Chicago flag and skyline and hot dogs and all of those traditional Chicago themes, I went for something that was more on an inside joke and running theme with friends.

Now, I'll spare everyone the details of how Pig Lincoln (or Abra-HAM) came into fruition, but essentially it was a concept that I knew would something really enjoyable if pulled off correctly. My biggest Chicago crush, Skyler, told me about Deluxe Tattoo — which just happened to be pretty close to where I was staying in Andersonville. I looked through the artists' portfolios online (and I can tell you — holy shit — the artists there have some solid work!) and landed on Zach Stuka. His style and colors were perfect for little Piggy Lincoln.

I went into the shop last weekend to meet Zach and tell him my idea. I gave him pretty vague details — "a pig bust dressed as Abe Lincoln" — and trusted him with the rest.

When I came back in on Thursday for my appointment, I was blown away with how accurate it was! He seriously nailed it — and the book was such an awesome addition.

Zach worked at an awesome pace and was such a pleasure to sit and chat with for the quick two hours. I highly recommend checking out Deluxe if you're in Chicago. I know that when I go back to visit, I'm going to try and get some work by other artists there!

So this is Pig Lincoln, a little swollen and fresh. You'll probably see him pop up in many posts down the road. What can I say? I love him!

Check out Zach's portfolio here or follow him on Instagram at @zstuka666. He will be on the road this week — at Legacy Irons in Greensboro, North Carolina, from the 27-30th and at Absolute Art in Richmond, Virginia, from  November 1-3.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Weekstagram // Oct 28

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I'm a day late on my Weekstagram — but let's be honest, I've been slacking a little since I found out I was leaving Chicago so quickly. So here's a short recap of my final week in The Windy City.

  • Treated myself to an Avocado Smooth at Yummy Yummy.
  • A new and incredible piece of costume jewelry that I scored at the Andersonville Galleria. Her name is Donna!
  • Angus showed me his favorite hangover breakfast spot.
  • I finally got to go into the new Gaslight Coffee in Logan Square. I loved the vibe of the location and wish it would have been there while I lived in the neighborhood — what an awesome alternative to New Wave! The wallpaper was to die for.
  • Great morning talks and coffee and crazy hair with Alaine.
  • I voted early! 
  • On Tuesday I visited Sprout Social and got a nice tour of their social media management software. It was very insightful — I'm currently using it now to manage my Facebook and Twitter and I love it!
  • For the first time in two years, I got a tattoo. I went in to give my concept to Zach Stuka earlier in the week and was blown away at how amazing his drawing was for me. Check out Deluxe Tattoo if you're in Chicago. All of the artists have great portfolios. More on the work I had done on Tuesday!
  • I cried as I boarded the plane and again at takeoff. Living in Chicago feels like a honeymoon and it was a quick goodbye, but I'll be back to visit all of my amazing friends soon. 
Follow Mini Penny on Instagram @Chaplinnn

Saturday, October 27, 2012


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Cheers from the East Coast! So far Philly has been pretty good to me — both today and yesterday, Lou took me around to some restaurants and shops. I'm getting a much better feel of Philadelphia than I did both of the other times I visited.

I'm staying with Lou until I find myself a place. He (*we*) live in South Philly and there are a lot of places nearby. Yesterday we hit up B2 and enjoyed some Ginger pear apple cider. Hello! Perfect!

And this is Scuz, Lou's cat and my new best friend!

So today we went to Old City and looked at a few shops. We stopped by Franklin Fountain for a vegan pumpkin sundae. It was incredible. Franklin Fountain is the cutest little old-timey ice cream shop that [surprisingly] had lots of non-dairy options. Woo!

We also stopped by Shane's Confectionary.

And we ended our excursion at Washington Square before heading back home, where I proceeded to take a nap with the cat.

We're supposed to have a hurricane hit on Monday (coincidentally, my first day of work) — something that I've never experienced, so I'm not really sure what to expect. Because of the move, I haven't had any Halloween plans for the weekend but might carve pumpkins tomorrow with Lou. We'll see.

Cardigan, Wood Wood
Leopard Blouse, Urban Outfitters
Tap shorts, Forever 21
Tights, drugstore
Shoes, TopShop
Jewelry, Forever 21 & UO

Friday, October 26, 2012

My Kind of Town // Chicago in Review

I'm sitting in O'Hare airport writing this and thinking about how crazy life can be. On October 29th, 2011 — nearly one year ago — I moved to this crazy city. I left my Ohio life behind, in a way, with very little planning and foresight. It was "on a whim," as many would say. Everything in my world was turned upside down. I was in a new city with new people and a new job and a new environment. And I loved every second of it.

The path that my life has taken to get to where I am now has been nothing short of miraculous. At work I was passed up for a manager position that I had my sights set on, and I was devastated. I went through periods of doubt. Was I in the right field? Was I writing enough? Was I connecting enough? I found myself discouraged in my love life as the people I thought cared about me fell by the wayside. Things were out of my control and at the time, I didn't see the benefit of it.

For a long time I was a little secretive on my blog about where I work. It wasn't out of any sort of secrecy or shame, it was simply because I had come from working at Apple Inc, a company that (at least when I worked there) made it very clear to not represent yourself as an employee. They had me a little brainwashed in that way. It was very rare that I referenced where I work in my online life. Because of this, the little story of my promotion hasn't really been told.

In May, Urban Outfitters prompted their team leads (the best way to describe them are full-time associates or assistants to a department. I was the women's team lead at my store) to make a video promoting the new training program for the year. Immediately I had an idea in my head for a cheesy 70s infomercial knockoff. My store manager, Beth (who is the best person ever) gave us the time to make it — which is pretty unprecedented for a store of our volume. Me, Matthew, Rudy, Caitlin, and Bart filmed the commercial in about an hour — and it only took me about an hour to edit. We made it cheeky with a lot of inside jokes and a touch of Carly Ray Jepsen. How could we go wrong?

When the finalists were selected by home office, I was so excited that ours made the cut. I felt so confident and proud of the work we had, for a lack of better terms, thrown together. This little silly video was my baby and the response to it was so great from all levels of the company — it was a great feeling.

From there, everyone in the company was asked to vote on their favorite of the top ten videos. Our store was getting emails from employees all over praising the work and I had a great feeling. Fast forward to July when I heard that some folks from home office were in Chicago and that they were visiting our store — I had an even better feeling.

When Drew told us that we won — and that our prize was a trip to home office in Philadelphia — I was speechless. Inside I was screaming and jumping up and down and on the verge of tears. On the outside I was trying to keep my composure. I knew that we would meet some awesome people in Philadelphia and make connections that could be really good for my path with Urban, but in the grand scheme of things, I had no idea that it would go this far nor this quickly.

The trip was in August, as many of you may remember, and I already had a few interviews scheduled during my stay. Interviews came and went over the next couple of months, until the end of September when I was informed that I didn't get the position I [thought] I wanted. See, I was in a bind. My apartment lease was up come October 1st and I had nowhere to live. I had put off apartment hunting because of Philadelphia prospects, leaving me about a week or two to find a place to live. And to be brutally honest, I was broke.

Just as I was trying to figure my life out, I got another call from a recruiter asking me not to sign a lease and that there was a position that she knew I would be interested in — Social Media Manager. A lightbulb turned on for me. Alaine, who is an extremely patient and kind person, offered me an extra room in her apartment. It wasn't really a room, in fact, it was a covered porch. And it was cold. But it was a place to live and an extreme show of hospitality. I took her up on it. At first I had anxiety about putting my life in a storage unit and sleeping on a couch — something I did back when I became unemployed in 2009. But after a few days with Alaine, I felt at ease with the situation and knew that if I set my sights on what I wanted, I would make something, anything work.

After phone interviews, I was asked to fly to Philadelphia. On a whirlwind trip of less than 48 hours, I interviewed again. On my flight back to Chicago, which was at night, I saw the skyline as we came in to land. I cried. Chicago is my home and deep down I knew that I was doing the right thing for myself by moving forward with my career. I was scared and excited at the same time. And it was time to wait.

Well, waiting was something I did not do. The next day, as I was about to begin the Mini Penny x UO DIY Workshop, I got a phone call. It was a job offer. And I cried again.

I think it's really interesting when people approach me in public or send me emails and really think I have it together. I struggle like most everyone. Since I left Apple in 2009, in fact, I have done a lot of struggling. And I trusted it. And by doing so, and by working hard at what I love, people noticed. And now I have such an incredible opportunity in a new city with a great company. To all of the messages from readers and notes from friends telling me that I'm an inspiration — thank you. I still can't believe that I am here and I'm amazed every single day at how crazy life can be. You all inspire me.

Every single person I've met in the past year has changed me. Whether we have been internet acquaintances, reconnected friends, ex-lovers, or whatever: I've grown. I've learned so much about myself. My outlook is more positive and more confident. I have been surrounded by the best people I could ever ask to be. My coworkers made it so easy for me to love my job. My fellow Chicago bloggers made me so comfortable in a new environment. I cannot thank Chicago enough for welcoming me with open arms, nurturing me, and shaping me into the woman I am. The past year has easily been the best yet, and I can't wait to make everyone proud.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

I'm in a book!

A while ago — I would say roughly over a year — I was contacted by Christopher Bonanos, an editor at New York magazine who was working on a book about something pretty dear to my heart: The Story of Polaroid.

The email was about the image above, something I shot in fall of 2009 after my good friend Scott Santee tattooed this Polaroid Land Camera 100 on my thigh. He was interested in using it for his book and I was happy to give permission!

A lot of time passed and I lost contact with Mr. Bonanos (my email address at the time was with MobileMe and I lost that account, and so on). Just a few weeks ago I even thought to myself, gee, I wonder if that ever got published?

Fast forward to yesterday when my friend Angus and I were shopping at the Urban Outfitters downtown. I glanced at the book table in passing and saw the new Polaroid book. When I realized it was the same author, I started flipping through it immediately and found my image!

Fun, right? I was so excited and had to Tweet at Chris immediately. Upon digging a little deeper, it seems as though the book was just released — how coincidental that I stumbled upon it yesterday! I haven't gotten a chance to read it yet, but the reviews are great and I'm excited to dive into it after the move. If you're interested in reading it for yourself, head over to Amazon and buy a copy!

Extra: Check out the Vimeo preview

Thursday, October 18, 2012

On the Urban Outfitters Blog

Whew, just when I thought I had my goodbye Chicago emotions under control...

I didn't think this article was going to post until tomorrow, but I noticed it just a few moments ago and can't express how excited and flattered I am to be Urban Outfitters's Employee of the Month. I did a fun interview with the blog — read it here!

I also got to pick a handful of my favorites from the Urban Outfitters website for you to shop. From vegan pleather leggings to cat whisker pint glasses, you can see my favorites here.

Mini Penny is Moving

Work hard. Be nice to people.

It's almost exactly one year that I have been living in Chicago. Many of you have followed me along my journey and transition here. I love Chicago and I'm still in a honeymoon mindset. Seriously — I just f*king adore this place. The people, the architecture, my job, my coworkers, my friends, the cycling community, the coffee shops, the neighborhoods, the bloggers — everything.

But recently I've been feeling a bit bittersweet.

You see, I'm moving away next week.

Many of you have watched me struggle. It's hard to live in an expensive city. I've been open about my obstacles. I've also become much more open about what I do for a day job — working retail. So many of you understand and I have been able to connect with my readers because, honestly, that's what I am as well. I'm a reader. I'm a sharer. I'm a person whose life doesn't look like a Pinterest board (as much as I would love it to). And finally, after all of these years of struggling with finding my path in this crazy world, I'm on my way.

Last week I accepted a job at the Urban Outfitters Home Offices in Philadelphia. I will be moving there next week, leaving my retail location, to begin a career as their our Social Media Manager. This means that I get to Tweet, Facebook, and Instagram for a living. This is my dream job.

What does it mean for Mini Penny? The blog will continue as it has been. Obviously this profession is going to give me so many cool new stories and opportunities to meet interesting people and go different places. I'm going to be in a new city and surrounded by an entirely new group of people. I'm going to be super close to New York City and DC, which can be exciting all around.

And Philadelphia is very fresh to me and I have so much to explore.

The Mini Penny Shop, on the other hand, will be going on a hiatus. I'm not sure if it's something I will pick back up down the line, but my plate is going to be so full (as it has been the past couple of weeks), that I just don't want customers to have expectations that I may not be able to meet. With that being said, everything in my Etsy Shop is 50% off when you use the code PHILADELPHIA at checkout. Everything has to go. Whatever doesn't will be donated.

And Chicago. Oh, Chicago...

You have been my best friend and my worst enemy. I've fallen in and out of lust with you. You've broken my heart and mended it a hundred times. For every bad thing that has happened, something equally as exciting has taken its place. I have been so fortunate to be included in an amazing group of bloggers and the Chicago Blogger Network. I cannot send enough thanks to the incredible PR companies, Refinery 29, Urban Outfitters Chicago, and everyone in between who has given me a voice and allowed me to take this path. It is every single person that I have met in the past year that has shaped me — and it's only in the past few weeks that I've come to realize how much I've grown since landing here in the Windy City.

I have shed so many tears since I accepted the position, both happy and sad. In all fairness, there are days when I have questioned my day job and my personal projects. And now, finally, I'm seeing them converge in the most perfect of ways. I don't believe in karma and I don't believe in fate, but I do believe in hard work and passion. I believe in trusting your struggle.

I'm sad to say goodbye to a city that I love so much.
And I'm so happy to greet Philadelphia with open arms.

Expect only a few postings between now and when I arrive in Philadelphia on October 25th. I am working on saying all of my goodbyes to the amazing friends I have made during my time here.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Philadelphia, Again

If you're keeping tabs on my Instagram, you probably are aware that earlier this week, I took another trip to the Urban Outfitters home office in Philadelphia. This time I headed out solo for some meetings on the campus. It was a quick two-day trip, but I had a blast (as always)!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Weekstgram // October 6

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Last weekend I didn't get  chance to recap because I was so busy moving. Eesh! Now that things have settled down (just barely, mind you), take a look at what happened in the past 7 days through my iPhone camera.

  • Top buttons and red lipsticks! I'm excited that it's officially fall!
  • This is Jack, one of my new housemates. He's got a lot of personality. He also has a special spot — if you pet him there, he'll basically let you do anything. Hilarious!
  • Goodbye to my first Chicago apartment, Chez Moi. I miss Logan Square already (and this awkwardly large one bedroom). Bittersweet!
  • Jack and Dexter just chilling and making me their new friend.
  • My storage unit. Yep. I moved into a room in Andersonville and had to put everything in a little 5x10 space. New adventures!
  • This is Dexter. He also has lots of personality.
  • Matt came over to help me hang blinds in my new room.
  • My dad helped me move and brought me this incredible double album of old Woody Allen stand up from the 60s. LOVE!
  • My outfit (and a cat, of course) from the Marie Claire x United Colors event downtown on Thursday evening.
Follow Mini Penny on Instagram @Chaplinnn

Marie Claire x United Colors of Benetton // White Dress Project

Last night I attend a completely different type of event than I had been to yet — the Marie Claire x United Colors of Benetton White Dress Project. Per usual, I wasn't sure what to expect, but this was a nice little mingling exhibit with champagne, wine, and fancy little hors d'oeuvres.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Urban Outfitters x Mini Penny DIY Event

I'm very excited to announce the very first Mini Penny event! If you're in Chicago, be sure to swing by the Urban Outfitters Surplus next Thursday, October 11th for the UOxMini Penny DIY Workshop! We're going to be teaching how to alter t-shirts to make them more of your own style. Ever wonder what to do with an old graphic or see a two-size-too-big shirt at the thrift store that you wish you could alter? Come learn!

The event will be from 3-8pm at 2352 North Clark Street (near the intersection of Clark and Fullerton in Lincoln Park). We will have Urban Outfitters tees available for purchase for as low as $5 for you to DIY along with Mini Penny!

If you have any questions, feel free to comment or shoot me an email at minipennychi (at) gmail. You can also RSVP via Facebook!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Chicago // Lomography Gallery Grand Opening

Chicagoans! Guess what, we have our very own Lomography Gallery Store now! I mentioned it a couple weeks ago in a Weekstagram post after I wandered in there unexpectedly. This Thursday they are having a Grand Opening Party and you should totally stop by!

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