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Events, Food,

My #FoodieChats Experiences

By a strange turn of events, about a month ago, I found myself taking the Metra from Chicago to Aurora. About a year ago, this wouldn’t have been so weird… I used to commute from Elburn to Chicago and vice-versa when I first started working at Groupon. But now that I’ve secured a residence in a neighborhood bordering the city of Chicago, I find myself making the trek less and less. It takes something special, like my family, or an awesome opportunity, to inspire a train ride back to the suburbs after putting in a full day at Social Media Beast.


A live #Foodiechats experience ranks amongst one of those awesome opportunities that you just can’t say no to. One of my clients at Social Media Beast is Phil Stefani Restaurant Group. When we first started working with them, they had a very talented social media intern named Taylor. We worked with her to take their social media game to the next level. Nowadays, Taylor has graduated and moved on to starting hew own integrated marketing company, Deck Media. I’m excited to see where she takes it!


Anyways, as a member of the Chicago foodie community after being so involved with Stefani Restaurants, Taylor followed many influencers in the industry, including Steve Green, founder of #Foodiechats. For those not in the know, #Foodiechats is a weekly Twitter Chat (soon to be an app!) that happens Mondays at 7pm CST. For those who don’t understand the concept of Twitter Chats, check out the article I wrote for my company blog. Anyways, the topic always centers around food, and usually is sponsored by a company related to the industry or a restaurant. Taylor saw that Steve Green was looking for local foodies to take part in the latest live event, made her interest known and invited me along for the ride.


On this particular occasion, the sponsoring entity was Two Brothers Brewing. Although I love their beer (Sidekick all the way), I’d never been to the Roundhouse – even though it’s practically in my backyard! Once I got off the train, I walked straight in – passing various bars, a coffee shop, and a beautiful courtyard. Apparently it’s the type of venue that a lot of people get married – a choice I completely understand.


Steve Green was a gracious host and made sure everyone was properly introduced and facilitated conversation, while simultaneously capturing photos and tweeting out to his loyal following. See that’s the thing about a #Foodiechats live event… you have to be a master of talking to your fellow foodies and tweeting to contribute to #Foodiechats at the same time. At one point, the owner jokingly said “Get off your phones!” It took me a minute to realize he wasn’t serious.


In this particular #Foodiechats event, Two Brothers was promoting a summer food festival (which unfortunately for you is now over). The food was absolutely incredible – a gourmet take on American comfort food favorites. And the BEER! Can you imagine having unlimited access to all that Two Brothers has to offer? It was a dream. In fact, I had the opportunity to grab a six pack of their new Wobble IPA beer. My boyfriend, a home brewer, is writing up a review that will be on the blog in the near future! Stay tuned 🙂


Unfortunately I had to skip out before the event was completely over to catch the train. But little did I know, this wouldn’t be the last of my #Foodiechats experiences.


Fast forward to a few weeks ago. Steve reached out to me right before the Fourth of July weekend about an event happening after everyone returned to work. This event was at Frontier and was sponsored by the Better Burger Project. The Better Burger Project is a contest from the James Beard Foundation, which tasks chefs from all across the United States to create a gourmet burger. Here’s the catch – the Burger has to be composed of 25% mushrooms! Now I’ll be completely honest with you… I’m not a huge mushroom fan. But, I am a trooper. I tried the burger and it was damn good. The fact that the burger didn’t focus on the mushrooms, but merely incorporated them, was what made it a good situation.


I also ate my first oyster. Probably also my last oyster. But I put myself out there in the name of food adventures!


I was a little more comfortable and familiar with what to expect at this event. I met some pretty incredible people who I hope to see again soon. I’m grateful to have had these experiences as I grow my Chicago blogging empire and continue to explore the food scene!


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Events, Life, Pets,

Dog Dayz of Summer: Chicago Dog-Friendly Events

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Summertime in the Chi. The most anticipated time of the year for Chicagoans. After months of sub-zero temperatures, excessive cab fares, crowded bars and commuting while wearing half your wardrobe, we all are ready for some time in the sun. Especially the four-legged members of our community.

Let’s face it, as much as we hate being cooped up indoors during the Winter it can be equally depressing for our pets. Dog park? Forget it. Long walks? Better have boots and a coat. Picking up after your dog in the snow? Worst thing ever (but necessary – don’t be a jerk!).

So Chicagoans here we are, on the cusp of July. By now I’m sure you’ve got your own routine down with your dog and your other dog owner friends. Personally, I’m a fan of packing a few cocktails and going to the park but sometimes I like to switch it up. I want to let you know of a few little swanky dog-friendly events going on within the Bucktown and West Town areas.

First up on the Cheap Ass pet calendar is Lotties Pub located at 1925 W. Cortland Ave in Bucktown. This bar is one of my personal favorites. Super friendly, good food and specials, old Chicago styled pub and of course…a dog friendly patio. If you’re looking for something to do this July 4th before your festivities start or just want a change of pace check out their Independence Day Celebration benefiting the Veterans Service Dog Program! Featured specials include:

  • $4 – Two Chicago Style Hotdogs (100% of the proceeds go to the program)
  • $4 Fireball (c’mon, it’s America’s birthday)
  • $15 Buckets of Veterans Beer (not sure which brew will be served, heard this stuff is good though)
  • Dog Body Art available
  • Doggie Fro-Yo

If you can’t make it to Lotties Pub this 4th no need to worry. The Rush and Division group are hosting the West Town Pup Crawl. A “Yappy Hour” event every Tuesday night from 6-9pm until 10/16/2015. What they’re doing is at select venues the have happy hour specials for humans and some dog treats, beverages and gear for your pawsome partner. 15% of the sales from the evening will go to a different rescue each week. Featured venues include:

  • Mahoney’s Pub & Grille, 551 N. Ogden Ave
    • $2 Tacos
    • $5 Margaritas
  •  G&O (Grand and Ogden), 459 N. Ogden Ave
    • $5 House-Batched Cocktails
    • $6 Burgers
  • The Aberdeen Tap, 440 N. Aberdeen St
    • $1 Drafts
    • $5 Wings
  • The Matchbox, 770 N. Milwaukee Ave
    • $7 Pooch Hooch Punch
    • $5 Old Style Tall Boy w/Bartender’s choice of shot

That’s all I got Cheap Asses! I’m looking forward to updating you all with some other pet friendly events and activities this summer!

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Events, Networking,

8 Must Attend Events at Techweek Chicago

This week marks the start of Techweek Chicago, a seven day smorgasbord of all things technology, entrepreneurship and innovation in Chicago. Featuring hundreds of speaks, events, workshops and networking opportunities, Techweek Chicago can be feel overwhelming to the first time visitor or even the seasoned patron. To help in your selection, the Chicago Cheap Ass staff selected its must attend events of the week.

Robots To The Rescue: The Evolution of Unmanned Vehicles

June 23 | 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Driverless cars, UAV and robotics have long been seen as the vision of the future, but the concept of unmanned vehicles is closer to reality than you may think. Today, this industry is poised for rapid growth in this area for a variety of tasks, including equipment and materials deliveries, aerial photography, and even life-saving support. Join BuildWorlds as they share their insights on the not so distant future of unmanned vehicles.

TechMixer with Industry Experts, Leaders & Entrepreneurs at ParadigmNEXT

June 24 | 6:30pm – 10:00pm

Join digital marketing and design firm, ParadignNEXT for an evening of cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and networking with industry experts, tech gurus and entrepreneurial professionals at the River North rooftop hotspot, Graffiti Lounge (Techweek Pass not required, open to the public).

State of Innovation in Chicago Tech

June 25 | 10:30 am – 12:00 pm

The growth of Chicago’s tech community did not happen by accident. City of Chicago Chief Information Officer Brenna Berman discusses the city’s comprehensive technology strategy to fuel modern infrastructure changes, create smart communities, and drive technological innovation.

Food Truck Face-Off

June 25 | 11:00 am – 4:00 pm

Salivate to your heart’s desire, this event will be as delicious as it sounds. The first ever Techweek Golden Burger will be bestowed upon the winner of the 2015 Food Truck Faceoff.

Lifestyle & Technology

June 25 | 3:00 pm – 5:45 pm

Innovation transients the business world. See how the growth of technology will affect the lives of ordinary people, most notably in the realm of fashion and dating. Hear from StyleSeek CEO, Tyler Spalding and Spark Starter COO, Benjamin Hohl.


June 26 | 10:30 am – 12:30 pm

Being an entrepreneur has been described as “jumping out of an airplane while attempting to build your parachute on the way down.”Featuring OkCupid founder, Sam Yagan and nationally acclaimed psychologist Jennifer Johnston-Jones, this 2 1⁄2 hour experiential summit will explore the necessary goals, habits and mindsets an entrepreneur can develop to channel their best self and maintain their sanity.

Innovative Tech

June 26 | 12:30 pm – 4:00 pm

This jam-packed session on innovation will titillate the mind. Discuss topics range from the rise of the Internet of Things, the shifting subscription economy and the constant fight for relevance within the online consumer experience.

Announcement of Finalists / Final Round Pitches

June 26 | 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

The final round of Techweek Pitch is sure to showcase Chicago’s brightest and most innovative young companies as they compete for a chance to pitch their businesses at Techweek Nationals.

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Events, Food, Life, Transportation,

Chicago Ideas Week: Exploring Chicago on the Cheap

It’s no secret that I love participating in Twitter Chats.

Yesterday, I was asked to cohost Chicago Idea’s Week Twitter Chat: #Ideaschat (Tuesdays at 11am CST). In a nod to this blog, the topic was “Exploring Chicago… on the Cheap.”

In addition to just documenting this momentous occasion (my first time hosting a Twitter Chat!), I’d like to share some of my favorite responses for each of the questions, which all revolved around topics my blog holds dear!

Question 1:  What is your best tip for living in Chicago on a Budget?

Question 2: Festival season is approaching! What’s your best tip for attending on a budget? What festival will we see you at this year?

Question 3: What’s your tip for getting from one place to another in Chicago (on a budget, of course!)?

Question 4: Where do you go when you want the most bang for your buck for a meal?

Question 5: What’s your favorite free Chicago activity?

Thanks for everyone who participated and made this chat useful and informative! I know I learned something new about the city I call my home.

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Events, Life,

How to Survive a Chicago Summer Festival (in Style)

Fellow Chicagoans… Festival season is upon us (click here for a pretty definitive list)! I’m a huge fan of music festivals like Lollapalooza, and have a few I plan to attend this year (Pitchfork, Lollapalooza and Piqniq).

The Top 5 Chicago Summer Festival Necessities

Chicago Summer Festivals

1. Camelback. The Camelback (or whatever off-brand strikes your fancy) is the quintessential music festival foundation piece. It’s important both because it holds the rest of the items on this list AND provides a steady stream of water once filled up. I usually work at the water filling stations when I volunteer at music festivals and those lines get long. Plan accordingly, and make hydration easy since it’s usually pretty hot and you’ll be moving around a lot.

Chicago Summer Festivals

2. Solar Phone Charger. A regular external battery charger is fine, but has limited recharges. Music festivals are notorious battery sucks. You don’t want to be in the position of trying to meet up with someone as your phone’s battery is in the dreaded red zone. If you’re willing to splurge, give the Panasonic Solar Charger a try. It’s $70 and good for multiple recharges. You could make up the cost by asking friends for a beer in exchange for using your nifty device. 😉

Bonus Tip: Knowing that phone connections can be a little jank, set a predetermined meeting spot if you lose your festi-besties (I just wanted to use that word).

Chicago Summer Festivals

3. Snacks! Festival food is always expensive, and never nutritious. Look at the guidelines provided by the venue for the festival you’re planning to attend to see if outside food is allowed. If so (score!), I would suggest a mix of fruit (healthy! refreshing!) and calorically-dense snacks like granola bars since you’re going to get hungry after moving around and being out in the sun all day.

Chicago Summer Festivals

4. Rain Jacket. The reason I suggest a rain jacket over an umbrella is because it’s easier to move around in and to store (in your Camelback). With Chicago summer festivals, the weather can change on a dime. It’s much more enjoyable to come to a festival prepared than to get drenched in a downpour (lookin’ at your Lollapalooza, basically every year). Make sure you’re also wearing shoes that can brave the elements – I always wince when I see a girl wearing sandals that inevitable cause blisters.

Bonus Tip: Your phone needs a rain jacket, too! Bring a plastic bag just in case.

Chicago Summer Festivals

5. Sun Protection. Even more likely than rain is SUN. Pack a travel-sized bottle of sunscreen, and wear a hat or sunglasses. You don’t want to be in pain for day two of a multi-day festival (or at work after a weekend of being in the sun all day).

Chicago Summer Festivals

6. Tickets, Credit Card, and ID. Let’s talk about the absolute worst thing you can do yourself when getting caught up in Chicago summer festival preparations – FORGET THE TICKETS. This has probably happened to everyone at some point and it’s the worst feeling to arrive at your destination and not be able to get in. On the fringes are forgetting your ID (no booze!) and a credit card/debit card/cash (No food! No cab afterwards!).

Here’s a checklist for you to save (it looks lovely on a Pinterest board) so you don’t forget the essentials!

Chicago Summer Festival

What else is a necessity for you when attending any of the Chicago summer festivals?

All Photo Credits:

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Your Guide to the Chicago Improv Scene

It’s an exciting time to catch an Improv show in Chicago! Check out our guide to the different shows in Chicago – some only available for a limited time. Of an especially limited nature is the Chicago Improv Festival – running this week through 4/26!

Note: Some descriptions taken from respective websites.

The Second City

The Second City

Source: Wikipedia

Shows: The Boys – Every Friday Night, $10
Improv Legends and teachers, Rachael Mason, Norm Holly, Susan Messing, Craig Uhlir, Ryan Archibald and Rush Howell follow the formula of taking a suggestion and “making it worse”. The create the rules and break them during each show with not only clever shock value but intelligent ballbacks and fun relationships.

The Tim and Michah Project: Self Titled – Saturdays @9pm running from april 4th-may 16th. No shows on 4/25, $13
Improv Legends and teachers, Rachael Mason, Norm Holly, Susan Messing, Craig Uhlir, Ryan Archibald and Rush Howell follow the formula of taking a suggestion and “making it worse”. The create the rules and break them during each show with not only clever shock value but intelligent ballbacks and fun relationships.

Shows: Rubbing Out Otis – April 17th-May26th, $15
A film noir farce and screwball comedy in the tradition of Clue, the Pink Panther and Noises Off. Femme fatales and hardboiled deterctives meet mistaken identities and madcap anticisin in this fast paced caper.

Drink! The Sketch Comedy Drinking Game – Saturdays at 11pm, March 14th-April 25th., $15
A celebration of what makes Chicago, “sweet home Chicago”, with a follow along drinking game throughout the sketches.

The Improvised Olympic

iO Theater

Source: ChicagoNow

Shows: DeepSchwa – Every Sunday night at 8:30pm, $12
Arguably one of IO’s strongest harold teams, Deep Schwa boasts a formidable lineup of improvisors and local improv teachers. Due to the nature of the harold’s form being so intrecate to discuss, anyone looking for a good laugh and to see all the improv rules created and bent will just have to see the show.

Revolver – Every Friday at 10:30pm, $14
Debuting in 2006, this improv team has received the Del award for best harold team. Revolver has performed I the chicago improv festival, the LA Improv Festival at IO West and the IO south Festival in Raleigh, North Carolina. They also perform and teach workshops in Kansas City in conjunction with City3.



Source: MCL’s Twitter

Shows: MINT – Every Wednesday at 7:30pm, $5
A night of musical improv teams performing is quite different than any kind of improv showcase happening in this city. A fun way to spend a weeknight with friends or family.

Vamp – Every Friday and Saturday at 10:30pm, $15
A twice weekly showcase of Chicago’s strongest musical comedy talents. A fun and wil musical comedy drinking show.

Under the Gun Theater

Under the Gun Theater

Source: Under the Gun Theater

Shows: Comedy Against Humanity – Every Friday and Saturday at 10:30pm, $15
A live unauthorized show for horrible people. Interactive improv show that pulls suggestions from the audience playing the infamous card game.

A Swarm of Spiders – Fridays at 7:30pm, $15
A parody recap game of The Game of Thrones, condensing the first 4 seasons into 1 hour of theatre.

The Shithole

The Shit Hole

Source: The Shit Hole

Filled with mismatched thrifted chairs, every inch of this theatre fills up with improv nerds, students, friends and coworkers looking for fun, to try out new performance material, or just to get a few laughs. This underground theatre is the catalyst of the rumblings of Chicago. This. Is. The. Shithole. Insiders will tell you that if you’d like to attend a show, email and ‘ask for details.’



Source: CIC’s Facebook

Shows: Man Bites Dog – Thursdays at 10pm
Law Dog and Man Baby, two of Chicago’s most tolerated independent improv teams, have joined forces to put on a comedy showcase to be enjoyed by men, dogs, babies, lawyers and any combination thereof.

The Dark Room – Tuesdays at 8pm.
Improvisers use the dark room to develop talents rareley see in their usual repertoire. Improv, sketch, music, storytelling, standup and more!

The Annoyance

The Annoyance

Source; The Annoyance’s Facebook

Shows: Holy Fuck Comedy Hour – Fridays at 12am, FREE
See a collage of character studies, scenes, songs and maybe even some audience interaction, all written in a week by some of Chicago’s most accomplished comedians.

TNT – Tuesdays at 9:30pm, $10
An explosion of improv talent, featuring some of the best of the best improvisers in the city. Treat yourself to some excellent improv.

chicago cheap ass

Free Lollapalooza Tickets

Free Lollapalooza Tickets

Photo from Lollapalooza’s 2014 Volunteer page (that’s me in the middle!)

The title is a little click-baity but it isn’t untrue.

The secret to free Lollapalooza tickets is to VOLUNTEER at the music festival.

Ok, you’ll have to pay a $10 application fee, and commit some time, but it’s a small price to pay for being a Lollapalooza insider (and not paying a hefty three day ticket price).

Still interested? Read on and I’ll show you how to get into Lollapalooza for free*.

Volunteering: Getting free Lollapalooza Tickets

Every year around May, Lollapalooza starts advertising volunteer opportunities on their website. For the best chance of getting the team and times you want (more on that soon), you should sign up for Lollapalooza’s general email newsletter to have first dibs. If you have volunteered in prior years, you will get a head start (of about a week) on new applicants (nice).

The volunteer application costs $10 to help Lollapalooza fight spam signups and to make sure potential volunteers are willing to commit. Keep in mind – you must have a Chicago address to be eligible to volunteer.

In terms of actually scoring a volunteer gig, you need to fill out a profile. You’ll be asked about:

  • Past Volunteer/Work Experience
  • Past Lollapalooza Experiences
  • Availability

The more effort you put into this, the better your chance of scoring a gig. Basically, the Lollapalooza staff just wants to know you’re jazzed about their amazing music festival and want to see if you have the skill set necessary to deal with the tasks involved in your role.

Availability is extremely important in actually getting selected. You will need to be available the full weekend (all three days, including one non-weekend day) to have the best chance. Shifts are about 4 hours and are roughly one of the following:

  • 10am-2pm
  • 2pm-6pm
  • 6pm-10pm

If you have already volunteered, you can get whatever time shifts you want. If you’re new, you’ll need to be a little more flexible. Seniority rules, but you can still see the bands you want if you’re willing to work a less than ideal shift at least once. Pick an early shift on the day you’re most interested in, and opt for the midday/night shifts on days that are less important to you.

Free Lollapalooza Tickets

Teams range from environmental initiatives, volunteer headquarter operations, map handouts, general festival guides, and more. I personally like working on the environmental initiative teams. They tend to have the most spots available. I have volunteered for both Green Team and Aqua Team in my three years of volunteering, but I prefer Aqua. Green Team is a little intense – you have to stand in the sun half of the time (see the above picture) and try to reason with people who are under the influence about what goes in trash, recycling and compost. It can be so much better than this, people. Aqua team is awesome – shade, a plentiful supply of water, and lots of thankful patrons.

Perks, in a nutshell:

  • Free day pass for each shift worked, up to 3
  • Free food coupon valued around $5
  • Snacks and drinks at volunteer headquarters
  • …not to mention a much less-used bathroom
  • Not paying over $200 for a ticket

There are so many other non-obvious perks that I’ll let you discover on your own. You’ll meet some awesome people who are volunteering by your side and interacting with you as a festival-goer. So don’t miss this opportunity to experience a different side of Lollapalooza!

Have you volunteered at a music festival before? Which teams have you participated in? Share your free Lollapalooza (and other festivals!) experiences and more in the comments.