Author

Maddy Osman

Maddy is the founder of Chicago Cheap Ass. She loves to read, travel, cook, and play with her adorable dog Leonidas.

canned wine
Uncategorized,

Canned Wine: All the Rage(r) or Overrated?

Personally, I’m all for it.

Bottled wine can be a b*tch to take from place to place. This is both due to the ease in which glass can be broken (and scattered!), and the inconvenient need to come prepared with cups in order to drink it (bottle chugging is not classy).

Don’t even get me started on the necessity for a wine opener – without one, you’re screwed! But with the summer being characterized by carelessness and fun, wine lovers need to adapt their preferences, or at least their habits, to enjoy wine at a picnic, on the beach, or by the pool.

Before imparting judgment on any specific company or varietal, it’s important to note that drinking canned wines is a much different experience than drinking from a wine glass. Regardless of how you feel about it, there’s no getting around that slight metallic aftertaste.

Backpack Wine

Chicago-based Backpack Wine launched in September of 2016, so they’re new to the market, but a force to be reckoned with. Focusing on the most refreshing types of wine for summer, they stock a white and rose.

After trying both out, I would say that this canned wine is best suited for the type of person who doesn’t get snobby about wine. It’s good, but it’s nothing fancy. Backpack Wine’s Snappy White® hints at this fact, offering a white without designating the specific type of white. If you don’t know your Pinot Grigio from your Sauvignon Blanc, Backpack Wines will be perfect for your next outdoor extravaganza.

As a marketer, I’ve got to mention how much I love the branding and design of Backpack Wine. They’re just begging to be brought out and shown off.

If you’re an online shopper, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Backpack Wine is now available to order online in 37 states on their online store.

Underwood Wine

canned wine 3

While Backpack Wine appeals to the casual wine enthusiast, Underwood Wine bills itself as the craft option in the canned wines category. Everything from their branding to their point of origin (Oregon) caters to a more specific type of person (I’ll say it, hipster).

Underwood has a total of 5 canned wines on the market, which can be ordered online, or found at your local liquor store (Binny’s usually stocks them).

  • Rosé Bubbles
  • The Bubbles
  • Pinot Noir
  • Rosé
  • Pinot Gris

The jury is still out as to whether red wine tastes decent in a can (I’m biased, as I’m more of a fan of white). Luckily, you won’t have to find out if you don’t want to, as there are so many different white and rose varietals.

The cans look nothing like a beer can, and a lot like a soda can, but I’ll leave the implications of that to your own imagination. 😉

Trader Joe’s Canned Wine

canned wine

Trader Joe’s canned wine is the newest product on the scene (at least as of this writing!). With a level of sophistication comparable to TJ’s other branded booze line, Charles Shaw (affectionately known as “Two Buck Chuck”), you shouldn’t expect the type of drink you’d offer guests at a fancy dinner party. But not every day requires fancy wine, and Trader Joes’ canned wine is perfect for any type of occasion.

At $4 for four cans, the price most certainly, is right. Trader Joes offers two varietals: a white and rose that would make for the perfect booze to bring to your next event. Even if you don’t finish them, at $1/pop, you won’t feel bad about leaving extras behind.

Canned Wines: All the Rage or Overrated?

Whether you’re going out, or staying in, canned wines are the perfect beverage to enjoy on a summertime day. With so many options on the market, this rapidly expanding market has an option for any taste or occasion.

What’s your favorite brand of canned wines? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Image Sources: Backpack Wine, Union Wine Co., Trader Joes

Bruz Beers' First Inaugural Denver Belgian Brew Fest
Drink, Food,

Bruz Beers’ First Inaugural Denver Belgian Brew Fest

Anyone who knows anything about Denver knows that it’s a craft beer capital in the United States. For the uninitiated, craft beers combined with 5280 feet of altitude can mean a swift end to your day and a cab ride home, but for the experienced aficionado, it’s just another day in the Mile High City.

Bruz Beers' First Inaugural Denver Belgian Brew Fest 3

If you can handle your booze, you should consider checking out Bruz Beers’ first inaugural Denver Belgian Brew Fest. To be clear, the beers are belgian style, but brewed right here in Denver.  If you’re not familiar (you’re missing out!), Belgian style beers tend to be ales (not lagers), that have a heavy focus on malts and lots of fruity yeast flavors. In other words, a style both myself and my boyfriend can enjoy without having to compromise for each other.

Bruz Beers' First Inaugural Denver Belgian Brew Fest 3

Participating breweries at Bruz Beers’ Belgian Brew Fest include:

I could drink beer all day and be entertained by the calamities that ensue, but that’s not all the Belgian Brew Fest has to offer patrons. In addition to UNLIMITED four ounce pours from 10 excellent Denver breweries, you’ll also be treated to the musical stylings of Velvet Compass and The Goonies. And fear not – 4 tasty food trucks will be in attendance so you can chase heavy drinking with heavy eating:

Can you think of a better end to the work week?

Bruz Beers' First Inaugural Denver Belgian Brew Fest 3

If you’re seriously a trooper, your Belgian Brew Fest wristband gets you happy hour pricing in Bruz Beers’ taproom once the festivities are over.

Belgian Brew Fest 2017 happens Saturday, April 29, from 1-5pm. Tickets are $48 (purchase in advance on Eventbrite) and grant you access to everything you need for an awesome Saturday in Denver.

Bruz Beers' First Inaugural Denver Belgian Brew Fest 3

Will you be attending Belgian Brew Fest this year? Let me know in the comments below, and look for a drunk girl snapping pictures for Instagram – that could be me (or any other girl at the festival).

Growella Games Matches Savings Goals, Dollar for Dollar
Events, Personal Finance,

Growella Games Matches Savings Goals, Dollar for Dollar

The following post is sponsored by Growella.

According to Investopedia, Millennials (aka “Gen Y”) face the most uncertain future when it comes to money matters. These twentysomethings feel like the generation least able to achieve the material goals lauded so highly by the older generations they look up to. It seems daunting just thinking about the steps and money that go into buying a house, undergoing higher education to land a dream job, or retiring at a reasonable age.

There are a few notable reasons why millennials have difficulty saving:

  • >75% of millennials want to have the same clothes, cars and gadgets as their friends (thanks a lot, social media!)
  • Half of these people use credit cards to pay for basic necessities
  • >50% receive monetary support from their parents
  • 75% would rather spend their money on experiences

Money Saving Tips

Sometimes saving money is a matter of understanding how to be the most effective with the money you have. This tips can get you on the right track to start:

  • Set a budget: Connect all financial accounts (credit card, checking, savings, loans, etc.) to a tool like Mint. Categorize each transaction. Set a monthly limit for each category, and measure your efforts to stay within the budget you set – then adjust next month as necessary!
  • Pay yourself: A tool like Acorns or Digit can help you automate savings/money-growing efforts.
  • Contribute to your 401k: Or IRA, if that’s what you’re into. If you work at a company that sponsors a retirement savings plan, set up a specific monetary amount or percentage that gets taken off before your paycheck is deposited into your bank account. Out of sight, out of mind!
  • Stave off wants: Getting tech toys cheap often comes down to having godlike patience. Work diligently to pay off your credit cards and student loans, prioritizing these payments over shiny new things. Thanks to interest, these two kinds of debt accumulate over time and cost you more in the long run if ignored!
  • Ask for help. With so much personal finance advice on the internet, it can be hard to know what strategy is right for you. But companies like Growella exist to lend a helping hand.

Also, take a moment to consider if you’re spending too much money shopping online, or on vacation travel.

Growella Games: A Money Challenge

Growella is a resource for money, career, and life advice for twentysomethings who want to achieve more.

In the spirit of their reason for existence, Growella recently launched a money challenge game. Just about anyone can benefit from the results, whether they have a certain money goal to hit, want to pay off their student loans, or start saving.

Participants undergo an 8 week challenge to save money. If they succeed, Growella will match their savings – dollar for dollar. Bailey Cummins (of becomingbailey.com) started with the goal to save money for her emergency fund, and you can read about her progress here.

How to Play Growella Games

First off, get yourself registered for Growella Games here. What are you waiting for? It’s free! Next, you’ll receive a confirmation email with a link to your player profile.

From there, you’ll share your money goals, and how you think Growella Games can help you. Based on your profile, Growella will assign a specific money challenge to you. To give an example, a player with student loans might be challenged to reduce their student loan balances by $500.

Every player’s goal is personalized. As you make progress, you’ll record weekly video updates to be shared with the Growella community, and on your personal Growella Games player page.

one person is selected to play from all completed registrations, and that player selection will happen at the end of April (for the current round). The challenge runs for 8 weeks. If you successfully complete it, your money is matched dollar for dollar.
Challenge yourself with Growella Games. Who’s in?

How to Get Tech Toys Cheap
Life, Shopping,

How to Get Tech Toys Cheap

Keeping up with the latest technology trends can quickly get expensive. Although being labeled as an early adopter sounds good in practice, it’s a title that definitely comes with a hefty price tag.

But you don’t have to sacrifice anything but time to be a savvy consumer of technology. With a little bit of patience, here’s how to get tech toys cheap.

Simply Wait

This is the most boring but practical tip I can give you on how to get your favorite tech toys cheap. But the fact of the matter is that there’s a direct negative correlation between the amount of time you’re willing to wait, and the price of the tech toy you desire.

The best (and most patient) customers wait until the initial release hype is over, sometimes even until the next generation is out. Graciously, multi-generation products (like the Xbox or iPhone) offer some predictability as to how long after release prices are expected to drop.

For new products, you can often count on major shopping holidays (like Black Friday) to score some kind of deal. Brands like Fitbit and Apple rarely discount, but are often sold during shopping holidays with a gift card bonus to department stores like Target. So if you can’t get a discount, at least aim for a useful bonus!

eBay

Sellers on eBay are excited about the potential that auction-style bidding provides, which is why they choose to list with this service instead of some of the other options on this list. For buyers, this usually means a low initial bid, with the hopes that a coveted tech toy will spark a bidding war just short of a product’s retail value (or more if there’s some level of scarcity currently in place).

Fortunately, for buyers that wait until a few months after a product’s release, these bidding wars are few and far between. More than likely, you’ll find a listing with a fair “Buy it Now” price that’s cheaper than buying the product new. Numerous purchase protections through eBay will ensure that you’ve got some insurance on a big transaction.

Buy Refurbished

This is different than buying used, because it usually comes with some level of warranty or guarantee from the manufacturer. Apple’s best pricing can be found in it’s refurbished products section, which includes everything from laptops, to tablets, and iPods.

If you’re making a big purchase, it’s nice to know that it’s protected – and that you’re saving several hundred dollars over retail. Of course, it’s important to note that refurbished products are often several months or generations old, which may not be something you want to spend your money on.

Groupon Goods is an excellent general marketplace for finding refurbished tech toys. On top of generally cheap prices, they also frequently offer percentage discounts (rarely over 10%) on their Goods category, in addition to a percentage rebate (usually 6%) through a service called Ebates (learn more about Ebates on my post, “Stop Spending So Much Money Online Shopping”).

Amazon offers discounts on returns/open packages (though generally unused) technology through their Warehouse Deals.

Used

This category for how to get tech toys cheap should be treated with the highest amount of caution. When purchasing used technology, especially at a higher price point, it’s important to have a basic understanding of how that device normally functions, and how to look for warning signs of wear and tear. When purchasing directly from it’s previous owner, you should request photos AND an in-person inspection of physical wear and tear.

Popular places to purchase used technology include:

  • Craigslist
  • Amazon
  • eBay

Caveat emptor! (buyer beware)

Student Discounts

Many major technology hardware and software companies offer student discounts that can end up helping you save hundreds of dollars on your favorite tech toys. Some of them employ thorough tactics to verify that you’re a current student, and others are more lax. Use that information as you will.

Technology companies that offer student discounts:

Major Sales Holidays

There are certain times of the year when various categories of technology tend to be on sale, but as a general rule, Black Friday is the day to go crazy and spend money on the tech toys you’ve been saving up for.

A caveat – top deals are usually available at a very limited quantity. If you’re serious about a certain technology purchase, make sure you get to a store as early as possible. Sometimes, these same deals are online. Just do your research!

The common characteristics between these various methods for how to get tech toys cheap center around the idea of patience and strategy. So do some research and try to ignore tempting shiny new things – at least for a little while.

Once you’ve invested in some shiny new tech toy, make sure to protect your investment. If you’re local to Chicago, Barry’s Computer Repair is a service I swear by, referring anyone I know who gets a dreaded cracked screen. Barry’s also offers incredibly inexpensive device insurance – often cheaper and more comprehensive than your provider!

How do you get tech toys cheap?

Share your secrets in the comments!

How to Drink Glendalough Whiskey (1)
Drink, Food,

How to Drink Glendalough Whiskey 6 Ways for St. Patrick’s Day

You might not be a whiskey drinker for 99% of the year, but come St. Patrick’s day, everyone is Irish for the day (or week as it may in fact be). In order to honor this special designation, it’s necessary to chase every Guinness with a drink made from fine Irish whiskey.

Glendalough Distillery is Ireland’s first craft distillery. So no, it’s not as old as the beautiful castles in the countryside, but what it lacks in age, it makes up in flavor.

Glendalough Irish Whiskey is available at bars in major cities around the US. If you’re looking for a special St. Patrick’s Day treat (instead of moumtains of cheap beer), here are 6 ways you can drink Glendalough Whiskey – at a bar near you, or even at home if you’re feeling like a mixologist.

ATLANTA

Cocktail: Interdimensional Crossrip
Personality/Venue: Sean Gleason from the Biltong Bar
2 oz. chai-infused Glendalough Double Barrel
0.75 oz. Vin Picon
0.75 oz. Sorghum pecan syrup
0.5 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. of egg white
Method: Shaken up in a cocktail glass and garnished with crushed chai tea 

CHICAGO

Cocktail: Irish Spiced Sour
Personality/Venue: Carley Noel Gaskin from Bad Hunter in Chicago
Glass: Coupe
Ingredients:
1 ½ oz. Glendalough Double Barrel
¾ oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
1 oz. Banana Chestnut Puree*
½ oz. honey
½ oz. Don Ciccio walnut liqueur
1 egg white
Ground cinnamon to garnish

*Banana Chestnut Puree
1 C chestnut puree
2 bananas peeled and chopped
1 C coconut milk
Add all ingredients to a blender or VitaMix and pulse into smooth.
Method: Dry shake all ingredients and then shake hard with ice. Double strain into a coupe glass and garnish with ground cinnamon to taste.

Chicago Tasting Events

  • Bernie’s Lunch and Supper: St. Patrick’s Day Special featuring Glendalough Pop-Up cocktails from March 11th-18th
  • The Drifter Bar: Featuring Glendalough cocktails throughout the month of March and hosting a Glendalough Night on March 16th
  • Bangers and Lace: Glendalough whiskey flights and St. Patrick’s Day cocktail running throughout the month of March
  • East Room Chicago: Jams & Jammers featuring Glendalough Irish whiskey sampling and cocktail specials on March15th

BOSTON

Cocktail: Red Legs
Personality/Venue: Jace Sheehan from Citizen Public House in Boston
Glass: Rocks
Ingredients:
1 ½ oz. Glendalough Double Barrel Irish Whiskey
¾ oz. Pineapple Juice
¾ oz. Lime Juice
½ oz. Ango Amaro
Roasted pineapple wedge garnish
Method: Add all ingredients to a shaker filled with ice and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with a wedge of roasted pineapple.

Cocktail:
St. Kevin Sling
Personality/Venue: Ezra Star from Drink Fort Point in Boston. (voted Best Bar at Tales of the Cocktail among many other accolades.
Glass: Highball
Ingredients:
1 ½ oz Glendalough Double Barrel Irish Whiskey
½ oz Fresh Lemon Juice
½ oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
¼ oz Grenadine
4 dashes Orange Bitters
Soda Water
Garnish Long Lemon Swirl
Method: Add your whiskey, juice, Dry Curaçao, Grenadine and bitters to a shaker with ice, and shake up a storm. Then strain into a highball glass filled with ice and top it up with soda water. For full effect, your lemon swirl should wrap the whole way around the inside of the glass.

DC
Cocktail: Carmilla
Personality/Venue: Lead Bartender/Partner Mick Perrigo from The Left Door
Ingredients:
1 1/2 oz. Glendalough Double Barrel
3/4 oz. Yzaguirre Vermouth
¼ oz. Benedictine
2 dashes of star anise tincture
Method: Pour on the rocks and stir

DC Tasting Events

  • Whiskey Seminar at James Hoban’s Irish Restaurant & Bar (3/14)
  • Glendalough Takeover at  The Left Door (3/15) – On Wednesday, March 15th at 8 p.m., guests are invited to The Left Door for a special Gothic St. Patrick’s Day Party hosted by Glendalough Distillery, Ireland’s first craft distillery.
  • Glendalough Pop-Up Cocktail Night at Granville Moores (3/16)
  • St. Patrick’s Day Party Bar Deco (3/17)
  • Glendalough Pop-Up Cocktail Night at  Kingfisher (3/18)
  • Glendalough Pop-Up Cocktail Night at RiRa in Georgetown (3/24)

IRELAND
Cocktail: In the Navy
Personality/Venue: Aaron Hayden of Peruke & Periwig in Dublin. This is a twist on the classic Navy Grog and was voted best cocktail during the Dublin Cocktail Festival.
Glass: Rocks Glass
Ingredients:
1 ⅓ ounces of Glendalough Double Barrel Irish Whiskey
⅓ ounce Amaretto
1 ounce grapefruit juice
⅔ ounce lemon juice
½ ounce caramel liqueur such as Giffard’s Caramel Toffee
2 drops Peychaud’s bitters
Method: Shake and strain into rocks glass, garnish with grapefruit and mint sprig.

The good news? You have options.

What’s your favorite thing to consume on St. Patrick’s Day? Corned beef and cabbage is a perfectly acceptable answer. Share your preferences in the comments below!

Review: Thrones! the Musical
Entertainment, Events,

Review: Thrones! the Musical

Whether you’re a Game of Thrones fan or not is irrelevant – my guess is that you’ll still find a way to enjoy Thrones! The Musical. This musical parody of the popular HBO show starts out with a group of GoT fans talking to their uninitiated friend. The following scenes serve to explain the intricate relationships between GoT characters, and kingdoms, across several seasons. The perspective shifts from the fans explaining the progression of the story, to actors playing fan favorite GoT characters.

The show was written by the creative team behind another similar show – “50 Shades! The Musical Parody.” Again, fan or not, there’s a lot of fun to be had with talented cast members poking fun at these popular entertainment franchises.

Thrones! The Musical is fast paced. After all, they’re covering Game of Thrones plot points across 6 seasons! GoT fans will nerd out over 21 original songs, and an all-Chicago cast that works together to play more than 40 of the show’s principal characters. It should go without saying, but if you’ve never seen GoT, expect some intense spoilers!

Thrones! The Musical is the perfect pick me up for fans feeling blue between seasons of the popular HBO show. The fact that it’s a parody and a musical to boot provide a different perspective that fans will eat right up. It’s a great way to enjoy a night out in Chicago, with friends or family (as long as they know how violent and sexual GoT can be!). My suggestion? Take a drink from bingeing at the bar and grab a drink or two during this show’s intermission.

Thrones! The Musical has regular showtimes at the Apollo Theater, with multiple times available in the evening, from Thursday through Sunday. Additional times have been added during the holidays, but check the Apollo Theater’s schedule for the most up-to-date showtimes.

Depending on where you sit and what showtime you go to, tickets usually range between $36-59 (with student rush tickets available for $20). But here’s a special deal for you, readers!

  • 2 for $36 tickets for performances Thursdays at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 7 pm
  • 2 for $50 tickets for performances Fridays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 6:30 pm and 9 pm and Sundays at 3:30 pm

Valid for all performances through December 24 using promo code HOHOHO. Information for reserving tickets is on the Apollo Theater’s website.

Have you seen Thrones! The Musical, yet? What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

3 WAYS TO GROCERY SHOP IN CHICAGO WITHOUT LEAVING THE HOUSE
Food, Life, Shopping,

3 Ways to Grocery Shop in Chicago without Leaving the House

3 or 4 months out of the year, grocery becomes a chore in every sense of the word due to the cold, seemingly insurmountable walking and bag transporting conditions. But even in good weather, sometimes the grocery store is too far away to be plausible if you don’t have a car, or to be honest, maybe you’re just feeling lazy.

But regardless of why you can’t leave the house to go grocery shopping, you’re in luck, because you have options. Here are 3 ways to grocery shop in Chicago without leaving the house.

Postmates

Promo code: Use “fggx” to get $20 worth of delivery credits (can be spread over multiple orders)
Delivery charge: Start at $5, and go up depending on how far you are from the city center + 9% service fee on groceries + tip

Postmates is very similar to Grubhub, in that you can order our favorite restaurant food for delivery. Where it’s different is in its integration to shop basic groceries. With this in mind, and as many Postmates ride bikes, you should use Postmates mostly for small orders of necessities and popular items. You can usually expect Postmates to deliver in about an hour or less.

If your exact desired item isn’t in stock, Postmates gives you the option to substitute the order, take an in-store recommendation, or cancel the order completely.

Instacart

Promo code: Use ‘MOSMAN11 for $10 off your first order
Delivery charge: Various. Depends on your delivery timeframe and order size.

Instacart is a lot like Postmates, although they specialize much more in groceries and have a much better selection of products. The best part? You can shop favorites from grocery stores instead of accepting products stockpiled in a warehouse (which is how Peapod operates).

Delivery charges are quite minimal compared to Postmates and Peapod, ranging from $3.99-$5.99, depending on how quickly you need your groceries. They also have a yearly membership program that’s worth every penny if you end up using Instacart on the regular. The only downside is their pricing – sometimes up to 20% marked up from retail prices.

Bonus: You don’t need a Costco membership to order from Costco with Costco products.

Peapod

Promo code: 60 days of free delivery + $20 off first order with code 60DAYSFREE
Delivery charge: Flat rate around $5-7 per delivery + tip

Peapod is the best ways to grocery shop in Chicago without leaving the house. They’re pretty flexible in terms of when you want your groceries, but should expect as long as a 4 hour delivery time block. Make sure someone’s home to accept the delivery!

They run several promotions throughout the year, so when used strategically, it’s one of the cheapest and most convenient ways to grocery shop, without, ya know, doing it yourself.

Downside: Peapod doesn’t always let you know when your exact desired item isn’t in stock so you may find yourself surprised when an item you were counting on doesn’t come with your delivery.

A note on produce

I try to avoid buying fresh produce through any of these ways to grocery shop in Chicago without leaving the house. Stock up on frozen and canned vegetables, but save produce shopping for when you can pick it out yourself, whenever possible. A personal shopper isn’t ever going to be as choosy as you are.

A note on the shopping experience

It can be kind of annoying to buy individual grocery items on a screen, but all the above ways to grocery shop in Chicago without leaving the house try to make the experience as painless as possible. They have an ordering solution that’s suitable for those who like desktops and an app for those who prefer mobile ordering.

From a spending standpoint, grocery shopping online is a great way to check yourself again a monthly grocery budget without having to calculate things out by hand. For someone trying to avoid impulse shopping by educating themselves with in-your-face pricing, these grocery shopping solutions could have additional benefits for users.

Now that you know how to grocery shop in Chicago without leaving the house, what will you be using these services for?

  • A late night snack ingredient run?
  • Something you forgot to make food for a party you’re hosting?
  • Everything if it’s too cold out or you’re too far away from a grocery store, without a car?

Let us know in the comments!

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WHY I SWITCHED FROM APPLE FOR THE SAMSUNG GALAXY TAB S2
Reviews, Technology,

Why I switched from Apple for the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

I recently had the opportunity to test out the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 for a month as part of an ongoing partnership with Verizon.

Before receiving the tablet, I would’ve never guessed that a piece of Android technology could have converted me from it’s Apple counterpart – but it did.

Let’s talk about why, from now on, I’ll be recommending the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 to everyone I know in search of a tablet.

Look and Feel

First and importantly, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 has a very similar look and feel to Apple’s iPad models. Sure, there are subtle differences, but the basic experience of holding the tablet in your hand and interacting with the applications installed on it are very familiar to someone who’s been using Apple products up until now. I’m sure that was a strategic move on Samsung’s part, and I appreciate it.

I also appreciate that it’s super thin and light – perfect for slipping into a purse without noticing any extra weight.

The reason I don’t like Android phones as much as my iPhone is because they lend easily to having a messy interface. There are almost too many customization options, and people get creative to the point of hideousness.

The iPhone offers far fewer customization options, and I like that about it. Just as in art, sometimes having a structure or limited options leads to far better results.

Performance

One way that the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 outperforms Apple iPads is in battery life. I was extremely impressed by how long the battery lasted without needing to be charged – especially when I was using it as a mobile hotspot, but also how long it lasted while resting.

Usually, this would mean a battery that dies in mere hours (or less), but the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 lasted me closer to 10 hours, even with heavy use.

The implication here is that this device is perfect for entertainment or business – you can easily bring it on a trip and have plenty to do without worrying that it’ll die on you. And it charges at a very reasonable speed so you don’t have to wait long for it to be ready for more!

The only caveat is if you’re charging the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 using the cord without the original plug (like plugging it directly into your computer to charge, or in a car charger). It charges as slow as death, so try to charge it completely before leaving home.

I also had some issues with the plug being loose when plugged in to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 – if it didn’t sit right, it wouldn’t charge. That may have been a defect of the model I tested, but it’s worth noting regardless.

Another feature I liked about the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 was the ability to multitask. This is something that Apple has more recently integrated into the iPhone and iPad iOS. It’d be interesting to know which side of mobile technology integrated this feature first – let me know in the comments if you have any insight!

Features

One of my favorite fun features of the Samsung Galaxy Tab was the ability to take 360 degree photos. You basically start recording and move your tablet around an object or area, and it spits out a photo you can manipulate on the tablet. I’m not sure how most people could get use out of this, but it’s fun nonetheless.

Cost

The Samsung Galaxy Tab isn’t cheap, but it’s also not as expensive as an Apple iPad when you add in the costs of getting anything over the base model. Verizon charges $24.99/mo for 24 months, but there’s also a nice deal on the Samsung website if you want to buy it outright instead of on a payment plan. Screen sizes are 9.7 and 8 inches.

When it was time to send this tablet back to Verizon, I was very sad to see it go. I’m probably not the type of person who needs a tablet in their life, but I got a LOT of use out of it: catching up on my favorite blogs on the go, completing an online video course I had recently purchased, and Netflixing in bed when I was feeling like lounging.

If I were to buy a tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 is the one I’d get, without a doubt. I always had a great experience when using it for whatever I needed at the time.
Have you had a chance to play with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2? What do you think? Or is there another tablet you’re in love with? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

PARKWHIZ WANTS TO GIVE YOU $500 IN FREE PARKING (1)
Events,

ParkWhiz Wants to Give You $500 in Free Parking

Please note: this is a sponsored post. Also, a blog writing client of mine!

Parking in Chicago can be expensive. It’s just one of many costs a Chicago car owner can expect to deal with, after tickets, fees, insurance, gas, car washes, and more.

But it doesn’t have to be this way, at least for one lucky contest winner. That’s right – ParkWhiz is generously offering to take care of $500 worth of parking costs for a special Chicago car owner.

parkwhiz

To enter, follow these steps:

  1. Follow ParkWhiz on Twitter.
  2. Tweet them a picture of you and your car with the hashtag #findyourluckyspace. I know you love taking selfies – might as well make them work for you. Bonus points for creativity, of course. OR instead of of a selfie of you and your car…
  3. Tweet a picture of yourself with the ParkWhiz street team at the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade with the hashtag #findyourluckyspace

Alternatively, here’s another way to enter:

Book and park between now and March 17 with promo code “LUCKYSPACE” to be entered to win, plus you’ll get $1 off parking.

Now that’s what I call a deal. I hope you have the luck of the Irish on your side! The contest officially ends on March 20th, so don’t hesitate to enter if you’re interested. For complete terms see http://blog.parkwhiz.com/spterms.

ParkWhiz has spots conveniently all around the city. To search for Parkwhiz parking nearby, download the iOS or Android apps. Also, it’s quite easy to search parking in neighborhoods and monuments around Chicago by searching through their database of Chicago parking spots.

 

ParkWhiz is an extremely useful app for an urban driver (or suburbanite that commutes) because once you reserve a spot through the app, it’s guaranteed. This is especially useful during busy days and special events in Chicago. They also offer monthly parking solutions if you’re looking for more of a regular parking spot guarantee.

Do you travel often? ParkWhiz has a discounted parking solution for you. Here are a few options:

Also – be sure to check out their blog content. I’ve written a lot of posts for them about Chicago (like this one about romantic Chicago valentine’s day ideas) and budget lifestyle tips (like this one about budget travel) and topics. It’s very similar to the types of posts I write here on Chicago Cheap Ass!

Have you used ParkWhiz before? What would you do with $500 worth of parking credits? Let us know in the comments!

AT MEATBALL HERO, EVERYTHING IS MADE IN-HOUSE (2)
Food,

At Meatball Hero, EVERYTHING is Made In-House

Please note: a free meal was provided in exchange for this review.

I think I found my new favorite spot.

At Meatball Hero, EVERYTHING is Made In-Housev

Last week, I finally gave Meatball Hero & Pasta a try. If you’re keeping track, it’s the second Chicago restaurant to have a meatball theme. However, the other meatball restaurant in question, Mondo Meatball, didn’t stand the test of time. It seems like a lot of restaurants and bars in Wicker Park (like one of my favorites, Bom Bolla) are experiencing this quick turnover. Restauranteurs – take note.

But on to more positive things.

Chef Atif Ali is the mastermind behind this meatball masterpiece. His chef resume includes a stint at Bombay Wraps and even Balena. Ali picked the perfect spot to set up shop (3037 N Clark St) – at an intersection near Boystown, Wrigleyville, and Lakeview. If you can’t make it in – no problem. Meatball Hero and Pasta also offers delivery!

At Meatball Hero, EVERYTHING is Made In-House

But what really sets this restaurant apart isn’t the meatball concept, it’s the fact that everything is made in-house, a concept known as a “scratch kitchen.” Every morning, Ali prepares his bread, pasta and meatballs fresh, from scratch. It may not be the lightest fare in the world, but you can take solace in the fact that nothing is pre-packaged or processed.

Recipes are simple and reminiscent of what and old Italian grandma would prepare.

AT MEATBALL HERO, EVERYTHING IS MADE IN-HOUSE (2)

The meatball subs come in a couple distinctive flavors.  The Red Hero is more or less what you’d expect – a classic meatball sub with beef meatballs, marinara sauce, and smoked mozzarella (also made in-house!). The Winged Hero is the chicken take on this classic, and there’s also a seafood and vegetarian option.

The subs are anything but standard with housemade bread, meatballs, and cheese, but what I really loved is how easy they were to hold without making a mess. Chef Atif Ali hollows out the inside and puts the ingredients directly inside, without cutting two halves.

At Meatball Hero, EVERYTHING is Made In-House

If you’d rather eat your meatballs and carbs in the form of a pasta meal, there’s an option for that too! I fell in love with the fettuccine alfredo – it was the perfect creamy texture.

At Meatball Hero, EVERYTHING is Made In-House

And if you still have room, I tried the polenta fries and mushroom risotto balls (like arancini). I can personally vouch for how satisfying they both were – ask for the chef’s homemade ranch sauce to go with the fries.

At Meatball Hero, EVERYTHING is Made In-House

Meatball Hero and Pasta also has salads, but c’mon… live a little. This is definitely your spot for a cheat day meal.

Come in for National Meatball Day on March 9th. There will be free meatball samples, and BOGO offers on all hero sandwiches. It’s the perfect time to give this place a try and max out on all the benefits! If you can’t make it, definitely stop by sometime soon for lunch – they have an awesome $2.99 special that will hit the spot. And if you’re in the mood for a dinner date, Meatball Hero & Pasta is BYOB!

Have you been to Meatball Hero and Pasta yet? Let me know what you think in the comments! Or better yet, invite me with for the next trip… I’m already salivating over the thought of a meatball sub and fettuccine alfredo meal.