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CheapWeek,

CheapWeek: Beer on Beer on Beer

8/17 – Potbelly and Empanadas

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I have friends in high places. When I say that, I mean my best friend Zack works at Potbelly corporate and occasionally bestows free sandwich cards on me. I used one today and always enjoy the jealous looks I get… Anyways, I decided that Potbelly wasn’t enough and headed over to Portillo’s for some cheese fries. My diet starts tomorrow. In a week.

Dan and I fixed the empanadas we tried to make the night before. Our fatal flaw was the crush, so we got some Pillsbury biscuits and flattened them out to make empanada crusts. It worked out so beautifully. Until we get the dough right, I’m planning on always having a backup plan in my fridge.

8/18 – Slurping Turtle and a Friendly Visit

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We had a new person start at work and were charged with taking him to lunch. Fine by me! I took the opportunity to suggest one of my favorite ramen spots – Slurping Turtle. The ramen is amazing. The broth is so good and not so spicy that you can’t handle it. The noodles are the perfect consistency. The only bad thing I can say about it is that they default to plastic chopsticks and I splashed ramen broth everywhere. I guess they don’t call it Slurping Turtle for nothing.

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The truly awesome event of the day was my best friend Jessica from when I studied abroad in Barcelona coming to visit from New York! We spent our first night reunited watching The Great Gatsby (one of my favorites) and made pasta. We have a lot of little traditions when we spend time together and that’s one of them. She ended up making a tomato sauce from scratch that integrated bacon grease. My hero. It was a relaxing but necessary night, since the rest of the week was to be filled up with a bunch of tourist and tradition-related activities.

8/19 – Beach and 3 Sheeps Brewing

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Today and tomorrow were the first vacation days I’ve taken in awhile, and I intended to use them to the fullest. After making english muffin breakfast sandwiches with bacon, peanut butter and banana, we headed to North Avenue Beach. Jessica has been to Chicago before, but never to the beach. We took Divvy (for Jessica) and my bike there to get in a little exercise and for the experience of biking the lakefront path – a must-do for any person visiting Chicago. We met up with my friend Rob and read our books and soaked up the sun. In my case, a little too much. Damn Irish skin.

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We went home to rinse off the sand, then decided we both needed haircuts. I was past due for one by about a month or two. I went to my new favorite spot – Civello. They do an awesome Groupon deal for a haircut (sold out right now but usually restocks in the beginning of the month) in the Young Professional Salon. Civello is an Aveda salon, so if you like their products, you’ll like this place. The “Young Professionals” have yet to disappoint me. Always a pleasant experience with aromatherapy, arm massage, head massage… and professional haircut and style. Jessica was very satisfied with hers as well.

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We stopped at Adagio Teas (because we’re obsessed with tea as you’ll soon discover) and I found out they do COLD BREW TEA. After a brief shopping trip, we headed over to Lakeshore Beverage for a blogger beer tasting with 3 Sheeps Brewing. The discussion was centered around dark beers. I’ll admit that I’m not the type to pick a dark beer when given a choice, but I came to the event with an open mind. We started with 3 Sheeps Really Cool Waterslides (an IPA), then dove into Paid Time Off, Baaad Boy Black Wheat and Hello My Name is Joe. I loved that we had access to Grant Pauly, the brewer and head honcho. My boyfriend joined Jessica and us. He’s a homebrewer and will be writing articles related to beers and brewing soon on the blog – stay tuned!

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We made it home a little buzzed on dark brews and Jessica made the most badass dinner – twice baked potatoes and steak. I passed out after filling up my belly.

8/20 – The Art Institute and Mario’s Table

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I got a lot of Fitbit steps in today. I woke up slowly and enjoyed a simple breakfast with Jessica while waiting for my sister to drive up to the city. We made our way down to the Art Institute, since Thursdays are Illinois resident free days. Unfortunately that deal didn’t start until 5pm. So we used our time to get some downtown shopping done. I got a tea canister and some jasmine green tea from DavidsTea that was on sale. Then we went to Forever 21. Forever 21 has the cutest and most affordable workout gear… I couldn’t stop myself from getting a new top.

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Soon, we headed back to the Art Institute and I took Jessica and Darya through Asian Art exhibits, some American classics, and Greek statues. After all the shopping and art, we were getting hangry.

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One of Social Media Beast’s clients is Mario’s Table, and today happened to be their 20th anniversary party. So we headed there. Just as we got there, several of my coworkers were leaving, having just enjoyed a delicious Italian meal. My boss was there with family and friends and sent us a free appetizer… what a guy. The wine was $20 (regularly $35), the chicken parmesan I got was seasoned perfectly, and I got a free bottle of olive oil to take home. And a gift card to come back. What a great event.

8/21 – Cafe Baba Reeba and a Drag Show at Hydrate

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Jessica and I both had to work today, so we chilled on the couch together and got it done. We took a late afternoon jog, then cleaned up for dinner. It was a true Barcelona reunion, since we planned on meeting another study abroad friend (Chris) at a Spanish tapas place, my favorite – Cafe Baba Reeba. We enjoyed some shared bites and mango “sangria,” then headed to Chris’ place for a quick drink. He has the cutest little baby kitten! I fell in love.

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Later in the evening, we went to Hydrate Night Club in Boystown for a drag show. I’d never been to a real drag show, so this was an awesome experience to share with Jessica and Chris. Hydrate is $5 to get into the drag show with a two drink minimum, but the drinks are pretty affordable. Make sure to bring some singles to tip the performers if you go. Also, there’s some performers the straight ladies will appreciate… but I’ll let you go there and figure it out for yourself 😉

8/22 – Royal Run, Chinatown and Afternoon Tea at the Allis

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Jessica and I didn’t stay out late after the drag show, since we had a run early this morning. It was the Royal Run, and I’ve got to say… the event kind of sucked. Not that many people showed up, the start location was a 10 minute drive from the one listed on all race materials, and it wasn’t a full 5k… whoops. Regardless, it was Jessica’s first 5k, and I was happy to share the experience with her. And we got some capes. People were cheering us on the whole time.

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We took a little nap, the headed to Chinatown. Jessica has a goal to visit every Chinatown, and Chicago was no exception. Unfortunately, it wasn’t Jessica’s favorite. Though we did drink some delicious bubble tea and shared some gargantuan noodle dishes. Jessica realized too late that a family of four shared the dish she ended up ordering… no chance of finishing it. Definitely check it out if you’re in Chinatown with a friend. Entrees are around $10 and can easily serve two or more.

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One of our traditions is getting afternoon tea. Today I took Jessica to The Allis, one of the public restaurants of Soho House. The serve a mean afternoon tea, and even accommodated Jessica’s egg allergies. The space is adorable – the perfect place to take a group of girls or your mom.

Jessica and I made our way home, then I joined my boyfriend in Logan Square for a few hours. Deschutes Brewery had a public event in a park, not unlike New Beligum’s event earlier in the summer. There were a bunch of different types of beer, food trucks, and live music.

I didn’t stay up late – it was Jessica’s last night in town. I went home and we relaxed for the rest of the night.

This kitty was in my hallway. Signs around the building claim he just walked in and nobody knew his owner. So I had an apartment cat for about... an hour.

This kitty was in my hallway. Signs around the building claim he just walked in and nobody knew his owner. So I had an apartment cat for about… an hour.

8/23 – One Year Anniversary <3

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Jessica left super early… like 5am. I spent most of the day lounging around with my boyfrend. We watch A Clockwork Orange… can you believe I’ve never seen it? Later in the day, we headed for Wicker Park. We don’t actually know when to count our one year anniversary, but decided that we would celebrate it today. We started the night at Big Star. We both love tacos, so it’s weird that we hadn’t given Big Star a chance yet. It didn’t disappoint – the tacos had unique flavors and were quite satisfying. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time when you come – there’s ALWAYS a line. Even Sunday at 9pm. After indulging on tacos and beer, we headed right across the street to Violet Hour. The theme of the night was places we’ve never been to. After Violet Hour got a James Beard award for Outstanding Bar Program, I knew I had to make it in. Besides all the other glowing recommendations from friends. It’s an interesting place – a speakeasy that’s hard to find unless there’s already a line queueing up. We went inside and they offered us some top-shelf liquor to sip on while making our drinks. We both got too and were considerably tipsy upon leaving. Although the drinks are more expensive here than your typical bar, they’re more dense with liquor. Plus they taste great! I’ll admit I’m not huge on craft cocktails, but I appreciated all the work that went into these.

Don’t just read about good deals – get them yourself! Find of-the-moment updates by liking Chicago Cheap Ass on Facebook.

 

Thanks to my amazing photographer friend Jessica Chuang for some of these pictures!

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CheapWeek,

CheapWeek: Returning From Hiatus!

I’ve been lazy. I’ll admit it. I totally missed my CheapWeek update for the week of Lollapalooza – but can you blame me? I was partying from Friday – Sunday, then needed a day or two to recover. Then I had a week of work events and familial obligations immediately after. Whew! I’ve been busy. And I have not been giving Chicago Cheap Ass the love and respect it deserves. But fear not! I took a hiatus, but I’m back with a vengeance.
I may go back and fill in past weeks. We’ll see if it’s worth it.
8/10 – Einstein Bagels – $6 for 13!
If you haven’t signed up for the Einstein Bagels email newsletter, you’re missing out. Two weeks ago, I got an email announcing their new Monday special – 13 bagels for $6. With a tub of cream cheese, the total is still less than $10. If you break it down, I spend about $3 on a bagel and cream cheese whenever I get a bagel urge. My bagel urges sometimes make me late to work. So I bought this deal and threw my bagels in the freezer at work. $10 for 13 breakfasts is a steal. Whether you buy for yourself or “splurge” on a treat for the office, this deal is money well spent. Look for it next week!
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For dinner, I made Manchego macaroni and cheese with chorizo. A delicious way for a Spanish taste.
8/11 – Undie Run Meeting
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I finally checked out the riverwalk for lunch with an ex coworker today. I had BOGO Chipotle coupons from Pride, so we just got our lunches to go and brought them to the riverwalk. It’s so relaxing to go down there – the perfect way to get through a tough workday.
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About a month ago, I spent a long weekend in Colorado with some incredible people who have since returned to their respective cities to start planning Cupid’s Undie Run. Cupid’s Undie Run is a fun run in the middle of winter where people wear their undies and raise money to support the Children’s Tumor Foundation. It’s a great cause and a good time. Anyways, our regional Marketing Manager came to visit me and the co-Race Director in Chicago. We connected with last year’s race directors and did some planning for the race in February. We met at the River North John Barleycorn and they treated us to beers and appetizers, since the run will be held at their sister location in Wrigleyville. It was a great night with great people.
8/12 – RNBA Event at Weber Grill and Undie Run Meeting
I was busy basically every night this week, and today was no exception. I had not one but two events to attend after work. The first was with our new client, the River North Business Association (RNBA). We went to Weber Grill and feasted on passed appetizers, steak skewers (yum!) and some of the best sangria I’ve ever had (perfectly served in mason jars with cubed fruit). I met some awesome local business people but couldn’t stay long.
I jetted over to Rockit Bar & Grill to meet again with Cupid’s Undie Run people. This time instead of meeting with the previous year race directors, we met with our new committee members. We had a lovely time getting to know each other, and figuring out where each person could best benefit the race.
8/13 – Native Foods Cafe, Rakuten Marketing Event, and Navy Pier Top Gun
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A couple weeks ago, I went to Native Foods Cafe for a focus group. In exchange for my time and opinions, they gave me a gift car to come back. Native Foods Cafe is a vegan restaurant – not what I’d usually consider my cup of tea. But when I went in for the focus group, I fell in love with their blueberry lavender lemonade. Their cupcakes are similarly amazing. The last time I was in, I had carrot cake. This time I opted for chocolate ganache. I can’t decide which one I like better.
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I was relaxing at Native Foods Cafe between getting off work and another event and made good progress on my book (Psycho – a quick and thrilling read). When the cluck struck 6, I made my way across the street to the Rakuten Marketing office. They were holding an event for the Windy City Blogger Collective (WCBC), which I’m a part of. Rakuten is an Affiliate Marketing firm, which means they work with bloggers to help them monetize their blogs by connecting their readers with brands and helping to facilitate sales. I saw my friend Mischaela from Big City Blonde and made some new friends, including Deanna from Chi City Mom! So glad I went, and not just because Rakuten hooked us up with a swag bag featuring products from brands they work with valued at $200 or more! Lots of beauty products, but my boyfriend appreciated the Smart Wool socks and Lacoste cologne.
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Speaking of my boy, I had to scramble quickly after the event to get to Navy Pier. They frequently hold outdoor movie screenings, and tonight they had Top Gun in honor of the Air and Water Show happening on Saturday. They have stadium style seats, so no need to bring a blanket!
8/14 – Pool Time, Public House and Maddy’s Mad Mac
Late in the afternoon, I met up with my bestie Nikky and we got our tan on at her pool. It was nice catching up with her since she’s always running around with her serving jobs and modeling gigs – we have opposite schedules! After the pool we went shopping and Nikky caught me a cool Michigan Avenue trick – If you go into Ghirardelli, they hand out free chocolate samples. Definitely a nice little pick-me-up in between shopping! We did a little bit of shopping and I got a bunch of new necklaces at Forever 21. I’ll tell you what – I spend next to nothing on most of my jewelry, and it’s the stuff I get from Forever 21 that tends to get the most compliments.
We briefly stopped by Public House to meet with an old friend and fellow blogger – Cat of Sunshine and Siestas. She’s old friends with my cousin and we originally met in Sevilla, years back. Cat just got married to the Spanish man of her dreams and was in town for the aftermath and to visit with local friends and family before heading back to Spain. It was nice to see her,  but I didn’t stay too long – had an amazing dinner to whip up!
A couple years ago, my chef friend Zack and I invented “Maddy’s Mad Mac” – basically 5 (or more) cheese macaroni and cheese with vegetables like peppers and spinach and meat such as prosciutto and bacon. It’s probably not that original, but we use some very premium cheeses and put a lot of love into the meal prep. Anyways, it’s been attempted in many forms since, and my boyfriend and I created a killer combo this Friday. It involved chorizo, bacon, peppers, garlic, two forms of gouda, chihuahua cheese, manchego cheese, mozzarella… and some amazing noodles I found at Mariano’s. For a comparably delicious “mad mac” – try Kuma’s build your own… so good.
8/15 – Air and Water Show and a Pig Roast
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I was feeling super lazy after a week full of events, but couldn’t let the Air and Water Show slip by without checking it out. I’d never been before, so today was the perfect chance. I met up with my friend Rob and some of his friends – fellow Iowa alums! Woohoo! I rode my bike, but that was kind of a mistake. As I probably should’ve known, the Lakefront Path was ridiculously clogged with people trying to watch the show. Whoops. At any rate, it was certainly a site to see.
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After the Air and Water Show, I got ready for an evening pig roast. One of my boyfriend’s really good friends was hosting it in Oak Park. He’s the one usually known to put them on, so it must’ve been cool to attend and not be in charge for once. Last year was my first exposure to the excellence that is a pig roast… and now I’m addicted.
8/16 – Shopping! Empanadas and Peanut Brittle Popsicles
I used Sunday to catch up on some shopping and cooking.
My boyfriend and I attempted to make empanadas, including the dough, from scratch. I’m here to report that the filling was an astounding success. The dough was not. #Fail.
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I also made some bad ass peanut butter brittle popsicles. It’s layers of vanilla ice cream, fudge, peanut butter, peanuts, and chopped up Reese’s peanut butter cups. These things are addictive. I shouldn’t have made them. But I had to.
It was certainly a busy week, but I fit so many things in! Looking forward to the week ahead 🙂

Don’t just read about good deals – get them yourself! Find of-the-moment updates by liking Chicago Cheap Ass on Facebook.

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CheapWeek,

CheapWeek: Busy Week, Busy Weekend

7/20 – Farmer’s Fridge and Furious Spoon
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Today one of my favorite past freelance clients came to visit Social Media Beast. Farmer’s Fridge brought up some yummy salads – some I haven’t tried yet. The Southwest Salad was phenomenal. If you follow them on Facebook and Twitter, they tend to give coupons and freebies on the regular.
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For dinner, I took the Chicago Cheap Ass bloggers to Furious Spoon. A few weeks ago, I won dinner for myself and five friends, so I coordinated it to work with everyone for tonight. I was a little disappointed when they weren’t ready for us (I’d be communicating with what I assume to be a member of their marketing team prior), but in the end it didn’t get in the way of us eating some delicious Furious Ramen. We all got the same thing because it looked so good. The broth was the best I’ve had in Chicago, and the noodles had an interesting consistency that was different from others I’ve tried. I’m looking forward to my next visit there.
7/21 – No More Zipcar
Today was an interesting day. For the past 10 months or so, I’ve been working for Zipcar as a Brand Ambassador. It was fun for awhile, not to mention a good source of income while I was building up commission at my current job, but it just wasn’t worth my weekends, anymore. So I quit and gave up my employee discount, but gained more freedom for other freelance activities and to focus more on Chicago Cheap Ass! I’ll miss the awesome people I worked with, but it’s time to move on.
7/22 – Hibachi Lunch and Drinks with an Old Friend
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Today we went out to visit a new client in Vernon Hills. We were there early enough to stop at a Hibachi place called Tsukasa for lunch. I freaking love Hibachi. I used to live next to Sakura Teppanyaki when I was still in Lakeview, which was a daily temptress for me. Anyways, lunch tends not to be as exciting as dinner, but give me fried rice and steak and I’m more than good.
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Shortly after getting back, I met up with my old Groupon friend Eric. He took me out for drinks at one of my old favorite spots, Kinzie Chophouse. Now that Illinois changed the happy hour law (for the better!), they had some awesome drink specials on Sangria. So we got a carafe (ok maybe two), and some beer cheese dip and caught up.
7/23 – New Laptop!
I FINALLY got my new laptop. And by got it, I mean it got delivered yesterday. Like after I already left work. BOO. You guys have to understand – this was a long process. First I made the conscious decision to buy a new one. Then I took on extra freelance projects to be able to afford it. Then I applied for the Chase United card so I could make those points work for me. Then the card took a month and a half to physically be in my hands. Then I ordered the laptop and it took a few days to be delivered (late). So needless to say, it was a long process but I’m a very happy girl now 🙂 I needed a new one because I’ve had my old one since the early college years. It’s super slow and it gets in the way of my productivity.
An important note to add is that I got an almost brand new laptop completely tricked out with the best storage, processing power, etc – about $300-400 less than it would’ve been new. How? Apple’s Refurbished section! It comes with a year warning and Apple Care for any issues you could potentially run into, which is a lot better guarantee than buying off Craigslist.
So I basically spent the night playing with my new laptop and setting it up right. Nothing too exciting to report!
7/24 – Fitness Video? and Commons Allies Concert
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So late afternoon, I headed to the Lacuna Artist Lofts to participate in a fitness video shoot. I recently joined the Windy City Bloggers Collective (WCBC), and this opportunity presented itself. I had my makeup done and met another blogger, who runs Big City Blonde. The Lacuna Artist Lofts were really cool. So many interesting artsy things… all the businesses there seem to be popups or by appointment only. Unfortunately, the shoot went long so we didn’t get to be involved in the initial project (though there are opportunities for the future). I am glad to have met Mischaela, though! She’s a great girl and I’m always happy to make Chicago blogger connections.
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My boyfriend came over shortly after and we had a high-carb dinner, since we had a race to run the next day. Then we headed to North Bar to watch my cousins’ band Common Allies. They put on a great show – they always do.
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7/25 – Big Ten 10k and a Trip to the Suburbs
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We woke up (too) early to go to Soldier Field for the Big Ten 10k. It was awesome to see all the Big Ten schools represented. I ended up doing the 5k since my knees have been acting up when running lately. After the race, we enjoyed some Goose Island beer, Amylu sausages (the chicken apple and gouda one was amazing), and got some swag from our universities.
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After the race, I cleaned up and caught the Metra back to the suburbs. One of my best friends from high school was in town and we got our group together for dinner. It was nice to see them all since it’s rare that we’re all in the same place at the same time. I also took the opportunity to spend a Barnes and Noble gift card that was burning a hole in my pocket. It’s rare to find a book that’s cost-effective at Barnes and Noble, but I had my eye on “Psycho”, which had no good discounts on Amazon. So I got that and “Brain Rules” and called it a day.
7/26 – Lagunitas Brewery Tour and Reggie’s Rock Bus
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No sleep was a common theme for this weekend, but I’ve got to say – I had a lot of fun. We met my boyfriend’s friends and family (and some other cool people) at Kincade’s for a drink. Then we got on Reggie’s Rock Bus and had some bus beers on the way to Lagunitas Brewery. We got to the brewery and were immediately impressed by the dark, neon walkup. I don’t want to go into too much detail about the tour right now (it will be a future post), but guys – this tour is FREE. You will get drunk as a skunk and have a blast. I’ve been on a bunch of brewery tours and this one knocked them all out of the water.
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Don’t just read about good deals – get them yourself! Find of-the-moment updates by liking Chicago Cheap Ass on Facebook.

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CheapWeek,

CheapWeek: Cupid’s Undie Run

7/13 – Leftovers and Ramen Contest

So I made a LOT of food over the weekend – primarily soups. I had some delicious Roasted Garlic and Tomato Soup and Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup to get through before leaving for Colorado on Thursday. It’s nice to have your meals almost completely planned out before the week even starts…

In other news, I told you guys about a week ago that I entered Furious Spoon’s ramen rap battle contest. I’ve got great news – I won! I decided I would take my Chicago Cheap Ass bloggers out the following week to reward them for being such brilliant writers.

7/14 – Flywheel (Protein Bar), Fleming’s Networking Event, and Social Media Beast Interview

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I have an awesome relationship with Protein Bar, especially their Brand Manager, Teddy. After seeing him at Social Media Day at Rockit, he invited me to an event sponsored by a new Protein Bar partner – Flywheel! I’ve done spin before at David Barton Gym, but this was completely different. The shoes clicked into the pedals, the resistance and speed were easy to measure, and the instructor was incredibly uplifting. I’ll do a better recap later, but I had a blast. Teddy dished out some awesome Protein Bar samples and swag afterwards 🙂

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Social Media Beast started working with the River North Business Association (RNBA) recently, which means I have some new networking events to check out and new, interesting people to meet! This one was at Fleming’s Steakhouse. I met some interesting people and they had some nice goodies for attendees – a box of chocolate truffles and a $25 gift card to come back. I’m excited to see what the next one has in store – I think it’s at Weber Grill.

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Every employee at Social Media Beast is getting a spotlight interview on the blog. Mine went live today! Check it out here.

7/15 – Shanahan’s in Forest Park, Hyde Park Itinerary and a Marketing Blog Post

Most of the rest of the week after today was spent getting to, being in, or coming home from Colorado. I met up with my parents in Forest Park at a Creole restaurant called Shanahan’s. I tried fried green tomatoes for the first time. Basically anything fried to me is delicious, but this was something new! I handed over my dog and went back home to pack before the trip.

Two blog posts I wrote were published today.

One fits the scope of this blog – an itinerary for Hyde Park for Choose Chicago’s Chicago Like a Local blog.

The other is for one of my freelance clients, and is about Gmail plugins for sales success and productivity. There’s likely to be something you can use in there.

7/16 – Giveaway, Hootsuite Ambassador and Colorado!

An exciting announcement for the blog – My Argo Tea and Adagio Teas giveaway is live! There’s $50 worth of gift cards on the line and the contest ends 7/30 – get on it!

Another exciting thing that happened today was my acceptance into the Hootsuite Ambassador program. Basically, the program encourages Ambassadors to use Hootsuite and it’s various features, sharing them with their network. In return, Ambassadors get access to Hootsuite Pro and Hootsuite University for free. Not to mention, it’s a great association to have for someone going into digital marketing. And sometimes they send out some fun swag 🙂 I’m excited to get more involved in the program and meet fellow Hootsuite Ambassadors!

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Finally, I began my journey to Colorado after work. I recently accepted a position as a Race Director for Cupid’s Undie Run. We were all to meet in Estes Park, Colorado at Peaceful Valley Ranch for a weekend of training and team bonding.

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I got to the airport and met the fabulous people I would be sharing a shuttle with. We got a bite to eat and some beers and waited until it was our time to get to camp. Eventually the shuttle came, we turned it down, got to camp, and called it a night.

7/17 – Camp Cupid Day 1

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I woke up bright and early to get breakfast. I met a couple people, then got ready for a day full of training sessions.

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I was grateful for the information overload during the day. A lot of people had a lot of knowledge of Cupid’s Undie Run, even from the volunteer side of things. I only knew what it meant to be a runner. A marketer at heart, I enjoyed getting event planning knowledge from an organization that has a great track record of making things happen and making themselves known.

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We had a brief rest after training, then made our way even higher up the mountain for dinner. They served a really solid BBQ dinner. We met in teams after dinner and came up with skits as one of our first team building activities. Ours was modeled after 50 Shades of Grey. Not sure if I’m allowed to get into more detail than that 😉

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7/18 – Camp Cupid Day 2

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The second day was a lot less training, a lot more team building. Throughout the day, we got into an intense group Rock, Paper Scissors contest, Trivia, Flippy Cup, a Twerk Off, a Scavenger Hunt and a Relay Race. I’m competitive by nature, so we had a lot of fun, but were cheated out of some wins (hehe). The night ended with some barn dancing complete with a line dancing instructor. Nobody wanted to say goodnight, but eventually I had to – my shuttle left at 7am the next morning.

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7/19 – Coming Home & Surprise Party

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I got to the airport about an hour before my flight. Not exactly the ideal situation, but it was kind of out of my hands. Next time I’m taking an earlier shuttle! Anyways, after cutting a few lines, I made it to my flight just as it was boarding. I walk into the plane and it just so happens that my second cousin, her husband, and their 7 month old baby are there! I traded with their almost-seatmate and spent most of the flight catching up 🙂 The rest of the flight was about getting through “The Martian” which is a crazy page turner I highly recommend.

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My parents were in town for my uncle’s surprise birthday party. I thought I wasn’t going to be back in time, but managed to hitch a ride with them after they brought my dog back. It was nice seeing my family, but I was exhausted. I had a crazy weekend!

Don’t just read about good deals – get them yourself! Find of-the-moment updates by liking Chicago Cheap Ass on Facebook.

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CheapWeek,

CheapWeek: Home Cookin’

If there was one theme to summarize this week for me, it would be: delicious food. This week was about an equal split between having awesome food out at restaurants, and spending time in my own kitchen, executing delicious recipes.

7/6 – #Foodiechats and #BetterBurgerProject at Frontier

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I’ve been lucky to become an active part of the #Foodiechats community. About a month ago, I took a trip to Aurora’s Two Brothers Roundhouse for a live event. This week, I was invited to an event at Frontier, sponsored by the Better Burger Project, which is a contest offered through the James Beard Foundation. Look for a dedicated #Foodiechats post soon. I had an awesome time and met some amazing Chicago foodies! Can’t wait until the next event 🙂

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7/7 – Farmer’s Fridge on Spring Rewards and Roasted Tomato & Garlic Soup

I bought a credit on Spring Rewards for Farmer’s Fridge that was $2 for $5 and bought myself a Buffalo Chicken Salad for lunch ($8 total). As you guys have probably already figured out, I love Farmer’s Fridge, and even featured them on a post about Best Salads in the Loop.

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For dinner, I made one of my favorite soups, Roasted tomato and garlic (with garbanzo beans). Look for a how-to coming soon on the blog!

7/8 – RPM Steak on Uber Eats and Weezer at the Taste of Chicago

One of my favorite restaurant groups, Lettuce Entertain You was featured on Uber Eats this week. They have so many awesome restaurants, including my favorite Chicago restaurant – Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba. I ordered the Mediterranean Salad from RPM Steak using a free promo code (that you could’ve gotten if you were following me on Twitter!). Even if you didn’t take advantage of the savings this week, you should sign up for LEYE’s scratch off booklet.

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After work, I headed over to Grant Park for the Taste of Chicago. I can already see a bunch of you rolling your eyes, but hear me out. Don’t go for the food. It’s over-priced and the portions are way too small. The most unique item there was rattlesnake sausage, but I wouldn’t want to eat that anyways (though my boyfriend did). Purchase natural sausage casings to store them properly. But the Taste of Chicago tends to attract big music acts, and you get to see them FOR FREE (unless you’re one of those person who HAS to be up close and personal and wants to shell out $25 for that privilege). So we snacked on some over-priced food, but got to see a big-name act, Weezer, for free. I had some bad-ass “Papas Bravas” from the Bruges Brothers food truck, which were reminiscent of spanish patatas bravas, but also had chorizo slathered all over them.

And look at these cute wine cans I found!

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7/9 – Client Breakfast

Today was an interesting day at work. A couple members of the Social Media Beast team made their way to Burr Ridge. I used my Zipcar connection to secure our transportation, and had an awesome omelette once I got there. That was probably the highlight of my day… I took it easy that night. Everyone needs a break every once in awhile!

7/10 – Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup, Chicken Enchiladas and 1000 Followers on Twitter!

Today was a big cooking day for me. I made some delicious Lemon Chicken Orzo soup after defrosting about three pounds worth of chicken. Here’s the recipe I used, if you’re curious. I love this kind of soup and made enough for a couple meals. Big batches are the key to taking care of a lot of meals with a proportionately low level of effort.

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Because I had so much chicken, I made chicken enchiladas for dinner. I modified this recipe, which was pretty easy to follow, but be careful with the oven instructions. I was past-due for some homemade enchiladas, and made some cilantro-lime rice to go with it. I’m so happy to have moved to a place with a functional kitchen! It makes creating all this delicious food so much more enjoyable than in my old studio.

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Finally, a personal goal was accomplished today when I hit the 1,000 follower mark on Twitter. Follow me if you’re interested in digital marketing news and (obviously) Chicago events and deals.

7/11 – Tour de Fat and Cafe Gaudi

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I forced myself out of bed bright and early for New Belgium Brewing’s Tour de Fat. My boyfriend somehow managed to break his bike (#spokeproblems), so we both decided to rent Divvys in case we got too drunk to bike home. That’s what I love about Divvy versus bringing your own bike everywhere. Sometimes you’re going to want to make one way trips, and you can’t do that with your own bike. We took part in the bike “parade” with a lot of crazy bikers and bikers. Next year we’ll have to come in costume! We had a few beers afterwards at the carnival. There was a silly “fashion show” featuring event attendees and free style rappers, describing each participant. We tried some of New Belgium Brewing’s small batch beers including their Hop Tart (yum!) and Pear Ginger (meh) beers. We listened to a couple bands, got some Curry Wurst from the Donermen food truck, and called it a day. At least for the Tour de Fat.

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We had a Groupon to spend at Cafe Gaudi, but stopped first at one of my boyfriend’s old haunts – Quencher’s. I hadn’t previously been to the bar and was anxious to try it out. They had my favorite shitty beer (does that even make sense?) from when I studied abroad in Barcelona – Estrella Damm.

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After Quenchers, we took the blue line to Cafe Guadi for some tapas. It was anything but authentic Spanish, but it hit the spot. We got patatas bravas, croquettas, bacon wrapped dates, and a few other “tapas” with a pitcher of sangria. Then we officially called it a night.

7/12 – Awesome Breakfast, Awesome Dinner and Apartment Organization

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One of my favorite weekend traditions is making a big, bad breakfast. I realized that today was the first time since moving that I actually went through with it! The boyfriend and I cooked up potatoes, eggs, and bacon for a perfect start to the day.

We woke up really early after passing out really early, so I spent the rest of the afternoon organizing my apartment and running some errands. I love days that I can devote completely to these activities. I also had a chance to work on some freelance projects, which is a weight off my shoulders.

Finally, I curled up on the couch to watch the end of Shark Week, and made a bad-ass bacon chicken pasta bake.

What a great week.

Don’t just read about good deals – get them yourself! Find of-the-moment updates by liking Chicago Cheap Ass on Facebook.

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CheapWeek,

CheapWeek: Fourth of July Shenanigans

6/29 – Noodles & Company for Lunch

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: SIGN UP FOR NOODLES & COMPANY’S EMAIL UPDATES. Follow this link for several other emails you should sign up for in order to score some free or half-priced meals. I bring it up because I had a BOGO entree coupon about to expire and used it for lunch today and tomorrow. $18 worth of quality food for $9? I’ll take it.

My boyfriend and I went to his parents’ place for dinner. They are some pretty fantastic chefs, and tonight was no exception. I’m dying to repeat their garlic roasted potatoes recipe. Also Brooke, my boyfriend’s brother’s fiance brought me an incredibly thoughtful housewarming gift bag. How cute are these towels??

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6/30 – Social Media Day and Articles I Wrote for Choose Chicago and Social Media Beast

So I’ll start off by linking to two articles that I wrote and were published today:

Barcocina: A Refreshing Bar and Restaurant Experience in Lakeview

Earlier in June I went to Barcocina and had the opportunity to taste a lot of different parts of their menu. This article for Choose Chicago reviews my experience. Spoiler Alert: If you live in Lakeview, you definitely need to check it out.

The other article is about all the different elements that go into a social post. Yeah, yeah I know it’s not about CHICAGO, but it is about one of my other passions: digital marketing. Check it out here if you’re interested.

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I reached out to the guy behind BackPackChicago, another awesome Chicago blog with a focus on finding unique destinations and educating tourists and locals alike about the beautiful city that is Chicago. We had a lovely lunch at Ramen-san – my first time there. We both chose the “express ramen lunch” (featured above). It included a half bowl of ramen, rice with a choice of meat, and a side salad. It was nice to connect with another blogger just getting started in a similar niche. Look forward to some collaborations between the two of us in the future!

Finally, I spent my evening chatting with friends new and old at Social Media Day at Rockit. There were a lot of great speakers lined up, including some I’ve had the opportunity to speak with/learn from before like Choose Chicago’s Nycole Hampton and #Foodiechat’s Steve Green and several other notables of the Chicago scene. One problem – it was all but impossible to hear them and focus on what they were saying. Apparently Social Media Day is hosted in the same venue every year. Maybe next year they’ll provide more seating and better acoustics… Regardless, I had a blast and would go again next year if only for the networking. The sliders with aioli tater tots weren’t too bad, either.

7/1 – Townhouse Round Two

Last week, my boyfriend and I went to Townhouse Wine Bar. He had bought two Gilt City deals that were about to expire, so we made our way back for round two this week! We tried new things – Nachos with a really delicious jalapeno cream cheese drizzled over it, the Townhouse Burger (you had me at pretzel bun and tomato chutney), and got more tacos – soy-braised pulled pork this time. The food was still amazing, and if I have another reason to go back – I will. They have a lot of great daily specials and the cocktails are divine. Again, we got $90 worth of food for $45!

7/2 – Vegetarian Restaurant Focus Group and Furious Spoon

So I’m not sure if I’m sworn to secrecy on this or not, but I’m not going to ruin my chances of a similar experience. I’m talking about a focus group I was invited to be a part of at a vegetarian chain in the Loop, with locations all around Chicago and in other states. If you can figure out what it is based on that, you win a prize. Anyways, I got to try some pretty incredible food, give my opinion on different perceptions based on the interior of the restaurant, the menu, etc, AND they gave me a $25 gift card to come back. Without giving away too much information – they had a blueberry LAVENDER lemonade and perfectly-creamy frosted carrot cupcake that I will be coming back for. Dreaming about my return visit.

Trying to find a link for you guys to sign up for focus groups like this… I will keep you posted!

Oh also… I entered Furious Spoon’s free-style rap battle contest to win free ramen for a year. Witness my humiliation:

7/3 – Door County for the Fourth of July

My company’s floating holiday was today, so I left early with my two best friends to go to my boyfriend’s family’s lake house in Door County, Wisconsin. If this sounds familiar, it’s because I was in Door County just two weeks ago for their Beer Festival. My boyfriend’s parents were gracious enough to have not only us, but their family and more friends of the family. It was a full house. We ended up sleeping in tents to give the adults (I still sit at the kid’s table) the best sleeping facilities. Although it wasn’t the most comfortable sleep of my life, it was an experience I haven’t had before.

7/4 – Second Amendment Rights

Our founding fathers fought for the bill of rights, or whatever, so we spent a good chunk of the Fourth of July shooting off guns at a local shooting range.

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Upon returning to the cabin, I took a nap in a hammock.

And when I woke up, I had a dinner of cheese-filled wieners, cheeseburgers, beans and good Wisconsin beer.

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God bless America.

7/5 – The Weekend is Over

After one last shopping run consisting of more cider, cheese curds, hot sauce, cherry jam, and artisanal olive oil (see below), we began the long drive home.

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On the way back, we stopped at Qdoba, and I’m starting to wonder why I’ve never given it a real chance. For $8, I got a badass quesadilla filled to the max. THEY HAVE AMAZING QUESO.

I fully intended on being productive that night (including writing this post), but I was exhausted from a weekend of fun and friends. Back to the real world!

Don’t just read about good deals – get them yourself! Find of-the-moment updates by liking Chicago Cheap Ass on Facebook.

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CheapWeek,

CheapWeek: Getting Involved

This week was action packed – guest TA-ing a class for General Assembly, Volunteering for Chicago Cares, and representing Zipcar in Pride!

6/22 – #BrandChat and Solar Charger

Today was an interesting day for me.

Let’s start with one of my favorite Twitter Chats – #Brandchat. It’s Wednesdays at 10am CST, and last week I won a participation reward. The physical representation was a branded hat. Although it doesn’t seem like a big deal, I’m becoming more and more recognized for having some expertise in the Twitter Chat community. This is a huge part of my Twitter growth strategy, especially as it relates to growing the Chicago Cheap Ass brand. On that note, a post I wrote for Social Media Beast got picked up by Business2Community and has been shared 160+ times and counting! Kind of a big deal.

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As far as future blog posts go, I received a solar charger in the mail from Verizon, so look forward to a post about that in the near future! I’d like to give it a full test at a music or neighborhood festival before revealing my opinions 🙂

6/23 – #Foodiechats and Professional Development Considerations

The most exciting news of the day was being invited to another #Foodiechats event. This one is the Monday after the Fourth of July Weekend, at Frontier in Chicago. I’m looking forward to it! I owe you all a play-by-play of the last event I went to… But look forward to that and a lot of other posts in the next week 🙂

Also, a lot of friends have been reaching out to me for help with their resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and Twitter handles. Rob is taking the lead on networking events, but are you interested in seeing more professional development-related content? Although this website is Chicago Cheap Ass… I want there to be some aspirational elements. Basically, we all have to start somewhere… but it’s good to have goals. And it’s important to have a roadmap for how to achieve them. I’m happy to throw together some posts/ebooks/how-to guides if you guys would be into that and get some use out of them 🙂

6/24 – General Assembly Possibilities

Let’s start with lunch. I got it for free at Fresha Place, which I’ve been DYING to check out. It’s all nutritious ingredients that are well-balanced so you stay full throughout the day. But I’m sure you’re wondering how I got it for free. Well, first I’d suggest following them on Instagram… they giveaway freebies all the time, no funny business necessary. But I’d also recommend you download the Freebie app and connect your social accounts. Your connections may be worth tons of free meals!

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So one of the great nerd loves of my life is Front End Web Development. I was talking to a General Assembly staff member at a Zipcar event last week and inquired as to the teaching side of things. On Wednesday I attended a class as a guest TA to get an idea of how classes are run. I’m going to look into it further as an after-work activity to get back in the game! I’ve been taking more freelance clients lately so it would be great to teach or assist in teaching the subject to refresh my own knowledge.

Do you have extensive digital or technical experience? Do you like sharing ideas and teaching beginners? You should look into working part or full-time for General Assembly.

A funny sign at the ParadigmNEXT office

A funny sign at the ParadigmNEXT office

Because one thing is never enough to fill up my day after work, I also attended a networking event at ParadigmNEXT for Techweek Chicago. I met a lot of interesting entrepreneurs, Chicago Chamber of Commerce members, and even saw and old buddy from high school at the Graffiti Lounge! Small world. It was a free event, like many at Techweek, so there’s no excuse not to check out these things!

6/25 – Chicago Techweek

I left work a little early today to check out Techweek Chicago with Social Media Beast’s Director of Content. We checked out panels as diverse as “Think Before You Tweet” – general legal considerations for posting on social media and a panel on dating in the digital world. I’ve got to say – I was not as impressed with Techweek as I had been last year. It seemed a lot less claustrophobic on the main floor last year… not to mention more and better panel discussions. It was also incredibly difficult to figure out just what and when the panels were. The schedule on the website and the app were not very user friendly. Definitely a disappointment that prevented me from coming back the next day. Although I did get a cute little Nalgene bottle from Mira if that counts for anything. I’d say in the future… if you can get a free media pass – check out the Thursday speakers and see what you think. But not something I would’ve paid out of pocket for.

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One awesome thing that happened today was our Graphic Designer Drew traced a picture I sent him and made me a nifty new profile picture. Check it out!

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6/26 – Townhouse and Jurassic World

One easy way to feel classy is by purchasing upscale dining deals on Gilt City. I just bought a sweet lunch deal for Tippling Hall. My boyfriend had bought one (well two actually…) for Townhouse Restaurant and Wine Bar. For $45, we had $90 to spend, which was enough for two appetizers, two entrees, and four drinks. Now that’s a steal. The food was great, and the perfect pregame to the latter part of our evening. We saw Jurassic World FINALLY after waiting for awhile to have the time. GO SEE IT. It’s crazy. It’s action packed. And it’s a great date night movie.

6/27 – Chicago Cares and Weird Al

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My mom somehow managed to convince me to wake up at 7am for a charity event (Serve-A-Thon) through Chicago Cares. Honestly, one of the greatest joys in my life revolves around volunteering and getting involved with different charities. Chicago Cares is a well-oiled machine that involves itself in many service projects at different Chicago institutions, notably schools. About 5,000 people gave their Saturdays to make a difference. My mom, myself, and her friend were sent to Edward Burke Elementary School and got to exercise our creative muscles painting a quote on the wall. Chicago Cares costed a $10 registration fee with the expectation that you raise an additional $50 (although they don’t really enforce it). In exchange, you get breakfast, lunch, and early dinner (or a late lunch depending on how you look at it?), not to mention a t-shirt, drawstring bag, and Gatorade water bottle my boyfriend was pretty jealous about. I mean… don’t do it for the fringe benefits, but know that there are some good ones. It all ends in a big party in Daley Square complete with free beer, hotdogs, and a live band. I’m definitely doing it again next year – especially if it means I have a whole day to spend with my mom who I never get to see.

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Later in the night, after hanging out with some friends who also did Chicago Cares, my boyfriend and I went to go see Weird Al. Everyone thinks we’re ridiculous, but it was one of my favorite concerts to date. The tickets are among some of the most expensive I’ve bought recently, but TOTALLY worth it!

Weird Al Stormtrooper

Weird Al Stormtrooper

6/28 – Zipcar at the Pride Parade

One of the reasons I love working part-time for Zipcar is because they’ve got their fingers on the pulse of what’s going on in the city. We had a “float” (really a decorated car with speakers, but who’s judging) in the Pride Parade, and had a ton of cool swag to give out to parade-goers. I’ve participated on both sides – on the sidelines and in the parade. I have to say – I absolutely love being a part of the parade and interacting with everyone along the route. Definitely get involved if you get a chance! Ask friends what their doing or see if your company or any organizations you’re a part of are doing something!

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Don’t just read about good deals – get them yourself! Find of-the-moment updates by liking Chicago Cheap Ass on Facebook.

#CheapWeek
CheapWeek,

CheapWeek: New Opportunities

This week was characterized by big news and awesome new opportunities.

6/15: Blackhawks Win!

Today was a big day for Chicago sports fans. The Chicago Blackhawks won for the first time at home since 1938 (according to a sports-loving friend. Don’t quote me on that). Needless to say, everyone was excited. I kept it pretty low key, but everyone else I knew went out to Wrigleyville to celebrate. The honking by my house didn’t stop until well after 1:30am.

6/16: Chicago Ideas Week Twitter Chat and Cupid’s Undie Run Race Director

In random wins of the week, I won a Negroni Week tshirt. I was really going for this really sweet bar kit, but I can’t be mad about winning a free tshirt essentially advertising my love of alcohol.

In much more awesome news, I was contacted Monday afternoon about running a Twitter Chat for Chicago Ideas Week. This is kind of a big deal for me, because I really only just started to understand Twitter. Since then, my Twitter following has been growing exponentially. I was excited when the Chicago Ideas Week people were interested in me hosting a chat about exploring Chicago on the cheap – my specialty. You can follow this link to see some of my favorite submissions to the chat.

After the Twitter Chat, I met up with a former Social Media Beast intern at Lyfe Kitchen to help guide her through the process of applying for jobs post-graduation. Lyfe Kitchen is by no means a “cheap” place to dine, but is known for catering to many different kinds of diet (vegan, gluten-free, etc) and for using very high-quality organic ingredients. So I enjoy checking it out every once in awhile.

Finally, I’ve been talking to the people in charge of Cupid’s Undie Run about getting involved. I’ve been desperate to throw myself into some kind of volunteer role and originally applied for their marketing committee in Chicago. I was asked to consider being a Race Director, and after a brief interview process, was selected for that position! I’m excited. I’m going to Colorado in July to meet with Race Directors from other cities.

Oh, and I had a shift at Zipcar tonight, working with design students from General Assembly at Brooklyn Boulders. Check out this sweet painted Zipcar:

#CheapWeek

6/17: Goodblogs at The Kitchen and BMA Fuel Event

One of my coworkers was invited to attend a content marketing company pitch at The Kitchen and didn’t want to go and asked if I would instead. I thought – networking opportunity? Delicious food? Count me in. I actually met a girl my company has been speaking with about influencer marketing, and signed myself up at FindYourInfluence.com. I have to be honest with you – I didn’t fully understand Goodblogs’ pitch, but the food was incredible. I’ll come back for you.

Later that night, I went to the Business Marketing Association’s sports marketing event. It was at the Chicago Sports Museum which I had no idea existed until now. It’s actually a pretty cool space, technically a part of Harry Caray’s in Water Tower Place. Admission is free after eating there, or you can get $6 off eating there after going to the museum on a normal day. If you just want to go to the Chicago Sports Museum it’s $6 per person. They have tons of motion activated sports games featuring Chicago sports greats and memorabilia if you’re into that kind of thing. The food was pretty kick ass, too.

6/18: Blackhawks Parade and Chicago Blog Week

#CheapWeek

I work for an awesome company. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. Instead of cooping us up inside, we all walked to the Blackhawks Parade together and took some great pictures and videos for our clients. And got to enjoy watching our Blackhawks and their shiny trophy move through Chicago. Chicago Trolley, who provided the transportation for the players and Stanley Cup, is actually one of our clients 😉

#CheapWeek

In some other exciting news, I met the founder of Chicago Blog Week last week. We met tonight to discuss partnership opportunities. He recorded a “Conversations with Bloggers” featuring ChicagoCheapAss.com that you can watch here (or below)! Furthermore, he’s asked me to be a speaker for two different topics at his August event! Can’t wait.

6/19: Pinterest Blog

While blogging is usually a pretty slow money maker, the art of writing blogs for other people is not. I recently made a connection with a nice gentleman looking for content to populate his blog on the topic of marketing. As this is something I spend a lot of time learning about, he found me qualified to write for him. You can see my latest post about generating money by using Pinterest. He liked it so much that I’ll be writing at least 4 more articles for him!

6/20: Door County Beer Festival

#CheapWeek

My boyfriend’s family owns a nice lake house in Door County, Wisconsin and invited me up this weekend for an annual event they enjoy – the Door County Beer Festival. There were a ridiculous amount of breweries represented, and we sampled almost all of them (don’t tell my mom). My favorite pick of the day was Island Orchard Cider. They had an incredible pear cider and apple cider “brut.” I’m sad I wasn’t able to buy a couple bottles, but I’ll be back up again soon.

6/21: Door County, Continued

Before heading home, we went fishing and shot some guns. Typical Door County activities. Then a 5 hour drive home. I’m so sunburnt, but it was an awesome week 🙂

Don’t just read about good deals – get them yourself! Find of-the-moment updates by liking Chicago Cheap Ass on Facebook.

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CheapWeek,

CheapWeek: Connections are Everything

Connections are everything, and that was pretty characteristic of the awesome things that happened this week. Always put your best foot forward when meeting new people (and maintaining old friendships) – you never know where they could lead!

6/8 – Farmer’s Fridge, Quirky and #Foodiechats

Farmer’s Fridge is very close to my heart after being a part of it’s early months. I wrote a post about Salads in the Loop a few weeks back and am doing a giveaway featuring one of their salads! Anyways, this week, Farmer’s Fridge opened a new salad vending machine in a 7-Eleven location in River North. They were doing specials everyday ranging from free salads or 25-50% off. I got there for one of the free ones! Always a nice surprise. Make sure you’re following their social channels or subscribe to their newsletters – they tend to do things like this with the launch of new locations, which is happening fast.

An interesting thing happened when browsing a big Quirky sale. Quirky is an up-and-coming company that sells products everyday people invented. They have a lot of promotions and the products are a great value. Something weird happened and my order totaled $15, when it should’ve been 3x that amount. I reached out to the company and they said I got lucky and they’d honor the sale! The order was inspired by a cool beach tote with a mesh bottom to shake out sand.

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The highlight of my day, however, involved a trip out to the suburbs. I was invited to participate in a #Foodiechats experience. For those who don’t know about #Foodiechats, it’s a weekly Twitter chat connecting foodies around the world (and it’s about to become something even bigger). This event was at the Two Brothers Roundhouse in Aurora, conveniently next to the train I took in. We sampled food from their upcoming Summer Festival and a healthy plethora of Two Brothers Beers. I won’t go into too much detail here because I plan on writing a follow up post, but it was a night to remember! Lots of thanks to my friend Taylor who got me in on this event!

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6/9 – Xoco and Lentil Marinara

Today I made my second ever trip to Xoco. It’s one of the office favorites, and a Rick Bayless restaurant creation. I met with a friend who helped me move to buy him lunch. We discussed this blog and he will be helping out with a section about networking and speaking events! I think it’s something this blog is missing, as it is aimed at young professionals in Chicago.

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For dinner, I made my favorite creation – a lentil marinara “pasta” with zucchini noodles. It’s one of the “cheapest” things I make, but also one of the most flavorful and healthy. I’ll write up a recipe and take some pictures for you guys next time I make it! 🙂

6/10 – Influenster and Sox Box

I recently joined an online community called Influenster. As I am constantly trying to build up my online communities, it only made sense to cash in on it in some way. Basically, Influenster gives me the opportunity to try new products for free in exchange for using and talking about them. So there will likely be an upcoming blog post about what I found out I’m getting from them first. It’s a PUR sink attachment to purify water. I bring a Brita water bottle with me everywhere I go… this will make it even easier for me to use clean, purified water when I cook!

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The Blackhawks played tonight (and won!), but I was invited to a Sox game with my company and some of our clients. It was my first time in a box, and I felt like a celebrity. All-you-can-eat food (hot dogs!), beer, and the most delicious dessert cart to pick things from. And you can’t beat the view. Thanks to whatever clients couldn’t make it – I had fun in your absence!

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6/11 – Devil Dawgs and Techweek

Probably knowing how hungover we’d all be after the Sox game, we had our monthly lunch, featuring the culinary wonders of Devil Dawgs. Besides crazy hot dog creations, they have some amazing sliders (the Elvis with peanut butter and bacon is to die for) and chicken sandwiches. I haven’t tried their milkshakes yet but want to. Through a mistake on our end, or theirs (I’m not sure), I didn’t get my slider this time 🙁 But I’ll be dreaming about it.4

I found out today that I got a free media pass to Techweek Chicago. I went last year and had an amazing time meeting tech industry professionals and listening to experts I really respect speak about things that matter. Do you write for a company blog? Freelance or have your own blog? You might be eligible for for free media passes – not just for this event, but many others in Chicago. Concerts, speaking events and more usually give out free media passes depending on the industry you write for. It’s worth looking into! They also have free attendee badges available for specific events if you want a taste of Techweek without paying for a full badge.

6/12 – Activate and Chicago Blog Week

Activate has some sweet deals!

Activate has some sweet deals!

So Zipcar, my weekend Brand Ambassador job, has a partnership with Activate. Activate throws parties in alleys in the Loop and brings together tons of artists and music – it’s a great time. We’re doing an instant photo booth and get to meet a lot of attendees. By some crazy turn of events, I found myself face to face with Dante, the founder of Chicago Blog Week. To make a long story short, I may be a speaker at the event! More details on that as they unfold. We plan on meeting later this week 🙂

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6/13 – Mae Concert

The first concert I ever saw was Mae and The Audition, in a church in Wheaton. It’s crazy how far I’ve come since that day, but Mae (and The Audition, really) holds a special place in my heart. So I bought tickets months in advance from someone who couldn’t make the show. Didn’t have to pay any of the extra fees – score! I went to the Bottom Lounge and sang my heart out to all my old favorite songs. It was a special tour, focusing on my favorite CD of theirs.

6/14 – Aroma Workshop

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I bought a Groupon a couple months back after hearing how awesome Aroma Workshop is. I took my boyfriend with so we could each create our own signature scents. We smelled a lot of different scent bases – from fruity to musky and everything in between. One of Aroma Workshop’s employees expertly combined 4 different possibilities to choose from. We each left with the perfect signature scent to suit our tastes – so much more personal than a store-bought cologne or perfume. If you buy the Groupon, it works out to be about $30 per person. Aroma Workshop also carries a variety of bath products that you can combine with your scent. They keep your combinations in their computer system so you can refill in the future!

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Don’t just read about good deals – get them yourself! Find of-the-moment updates by liking Chicago Cheap Ass on Facebook.

CheapWeek: Barcocina, Breakroom Brewery and PIQNIQ
CheapWeek,

CheapWeek: Barcocina, Breakroom Brewery and PIQNIQ

6/1 – CelebriTEA and Noodles & Company

Last week I hit “CelebriTEA” status at Argo Tea. I’m kind of in love with the place, and they love their customers back with a pretty awesome loyalty program. After 25 visits, I’ve earned $1 off all purchases before 9am (perfect for right before work), a free birthday drink, $5 in credit after every 10 visits, and a free looseleaf tea gift. The perks are all pretty awesome, but I wish I had more of a choice over which looseleaf tea I got to choose. I ended up picking the oolong formosa, which was one of the four options. Stay tuned for a post featuring Argo Tea and some other awesome tea spots in Chicago!

CheapWeek: Barcocina, Breakroom Brewery and PIQNIQ

Also, a couple of weeks back, I was participating in a twitter chat with Noodles & Company Just for tweeting at them, they sent me two free entree coupons. I’d encourage you to follow your favorite companies on Twitter… they tend to offer exclusive social media promotions. I once got a free pair of shorts from American Eagle by following their tweets and checking in on Foursquare. Here’s a very basic Twitter list I’ve compiled of companies to follow.

6/2 – Barcocina

Today I checked out a new Lakeview restaurant – Barcocina. It opened up just as I was moving out of the neighborhood! But a good excuse to come back at any rate.

CheapWeek: Barcocina, Breakroom Brewery and PIQNIQ

It’s got a cool vibe and is an excellent bar to check out now that summer’s happening in full force (garage-door openings for the win). If you like upscale Mexican cuisine and inventive cocktails, you’ll love Barcocina. Look out for a post on Choose Chicago’s blog soon.

CheapWeek: Barcocina, Breakroom Brewery and PIQNIQ

6/3 – Breakroom Brewery

CheapWeek: Barcocina, Breakroom Brewery and PIQNIQ

One of my best friends from high school was in town this week and we decided it would be awesome if a reunion included a trip to a brewery and a Blackhawks game. Breakroom Brewery is about a mile down the street from my boyfriend and just opened fairly recently. It has a garage door front (similar to Barcocina) and a plenty of TVs and a projector to enjoy the Blackhawks game. The beer was delicious – I tried three different varieties. The food was also pretty scrumptious. We tried the scotch egg, which was a first for me. The burgers and beer-soaked fries hit the spot.

6/4 – RCN Event

CheapWeek: Barcocina, Breakroom Brewery and PIQNIQ

Today I went to one of my favorite speaker events to date. RCN hosted speaker Patrick Schwerdtfeger for the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce. This event was an incredible value at $20. First of all – amazing buffet breakfast. Then a book Schwerdtfeger wrote called Marketing Shortcuts for the Self-Employed. I’m almost done with it and have gotten so many good ideas for promoting and updating the blog! But before reading the book, I was inspired by the talk and met some interesting people. RCN gave some other cool freebies away – a USB hub, a portable computer mouse, and an external battery charger. I’ll be on the lookout for more events like this. If your company is awesome and invests in your professional development (or you’re looking for a great networking opportunity), you need to be on the lookout for events like this. I talked to a friend today about writing such a feature, so look forward to some networking event roundups in the near future!

6/5 – Protein Bar Party and Annoyance Improv Show

CheapWeek: Barcocina, Breakroom Brewery and PIQNIQ

As a follow up to a post I wrote about Salads in the Loop, I was invited to Protein Bar’s VIP summer sampling party. Basically, they let us test new menu items and created some ridiculously good cocktails with their favorite ingredients that you wouldn’t normally be able to get. I tasted some new BBQ chicken entrees and finally tried the Avo-Matcha smoothie (the perfect afternoon pick-me-up), and even met one of Protein Bar’s investors! He actually just wrote a post for me about credit card rewards after we struck up a camaraderie.

After the party, I went with my best friend Nico to the Annoyance Theater. It was my first time there and I had a blast. Nico’s show Grounded is in the small theater, so it’s a very intimate experience. I hit up the bar afterwards and got a ridiculous amount of chicken nuggets for $5. Two thumbs up from this Cheap Ass.

6/6 – PIQNIQ

Today I attended my first PIQNIQ music festival at Tinley Park. The suburbs are hard to get to if you don’t have a car/want to thoroughly enjoy yourself alcohol-wise at a festival. We took the Metra from the Lasalle Street Station. An $8 weekend pass covers you for the full weekend. Metra prices have been raised exponentially since I commuted last year… and it’s only going to get worse. Save your train travel for the weekend whenever possible. And follow my festival tips for maximizing your experience (and money!).

6/7 – Moving

So this whole week my boyfriend (and his brothers! thank you guys!!) has been helping me move, one carload at a time. Today my parents came up with some of the bigger furniture pieces, kitchen stuff, and childhood memories. I’ve been neglecting Chicago Cheap Ass because this has been taking so much of my time and energy. But it’s finally done! Well… minus organization. I’m so relieved.

Don’t just read about good deals – get them yourself! Find of-the-moment updates by liking Chicago Cheap Ass on Facebook.