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chicago

chicago cheap ass (9)
Dating, Life,

Who Should Pay the Tab on the First Date?

A hotly contested subject with ChicagoCheapAss.com’s writers is: Who should pay the tab on the first date? The girl? The guy? And why? Take a look at both sides:

Rob Johnson, representing a Male’s Opinion:

The simple answer- its depends.

On what? It depends on how familiar you are with the person you are meeting. If you just met someone at the bar, going on a first date or in a relationship, there should be a different expectation to buy someone drinks, dinner or pay for a  night out.

If you are going out with the hopes of meeting someone, that is to date or hookup, I would not buy or accept drinks. Until you know that there is a genuine level of attraction between you and the other person, don’t invest too much of your money or energy.

Too many women use their looks or fake sense of interest in a man to their favor. This mindset to dating tarnishes the allure and spark of potentially meeting someone. Just like the man who assumes you own them something because he bought you drinks.

When you first begin going on dates with someone, it’s a good idea for the guy to pay. Its a simple act of flatly, that is not only respectful but shows that you have a vested interest in getting to know your date and build a sense of attraction.

Once you are going on dates regularly, it is fair to rotate who pays. I typically follow the rule of thumb, whoever initiated the outing, should pay.

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

Mallory LePage, representing a Woman’s Opinion:

Should men take the lead and pay for the first date to maintain a slight bit of traditional dating to allow women to practice being courted?  Here lies the debate of who picks up the tab for the first date. In a poll conducted in 2013 by LearnVest and T.D. Ameritrade, 55% of men said they thought the man should take the check while 63% of women expect the man to pay.  There is noticeable gap of inconsistency here.

From time to time, I find myself having similar conversations with both men and women.  Men often complain that they have to spend an enormous amount of money on numerous first dates whether it is dinner, drinks or both.  In these conversations with male friends and relatives I’ve found that they haven’t really put much thought into what women invest in for a first date.  In the defense of women, my dispute is the amount of money and time that we spend annually on products and services to maintain the way that we look in attempt to charm an attractive suitor.  Recently, I sat down to calculate the approximate amount of money I spend annually on hair upkeep (cut and color), hair products, hair appliances, makeup, face products, nails and that monthly visitor.

The results were staggering.  Annually, I spend roughly $5,000 on the bare minimum. This does not include products or services that men may also utilize including facials, massages, manicures/pedicures, clothing, jewelry, shoes, birth control, fragrance, gym memberships, body lotions, undergarments or lingerie.  I would consider myself to be in the median of this number.  There are women that spend much more than I do especially if you’re factoring in any form of Botox but also women that spend much less time and money.

A man paying on the first is not meant to undermine the strides we’ve taken for feminism and gender equality. As long as women are giving birth, there should always be some variation of obligatory practices that men should abide by including opening doors, allowing women on and off elevators first, arranging the evening, walking on the traffic side of the street and paying the bill on the first date.  Keep in mind; this is just the first date, beyond the first date or even first round of drinks it’s more than appropriate and acceptable for the woman to step in.

So who should pay the tab on the first date? Share your opinion in the comments!

chicago cheap ass (10)
Events, Fitness, Life,

Protein Bar gets Sweaty at Flywheel Chicago

Protein Bar is one of my favorite healthy fast-casual concept restaurants in Chicago. I love them so much that I featured them in my roundup article about where to get salads in the loop. I recently ran into Protein Bar’s Brand Manager Teddy at the Social Media Day event, who invited me to take a spin class at Flywheel a few weeks out. Protein Bar recently struck up this partnership, as the brands both target a similar demographic and they both promote healthy lifestyles.
Protein Bar and Flywheel
So while I’ve never been to Flywheel before, I have taken my fair share of spin classes. I used to work out at David Barton Gym on a daily basis when I worked at Groupon. Spin was a critical part of my cardio days, even when training for races, because it’s awesome cross-training. What I love about spin is:
– Cardio with resistance and elements of HIIT so you’re burning hundreds of calories
– The instructor tells me what to do. I don’t have to think, I just have to show up
– It’s fun! Spinning to a loud, uplifting beat is an awesome way to spend my lunch break
– I’m tired but energized when all is said and done
Anyways, David Barton Gym did a great job with their spin program, but Flywheel specializes in spin. They’re able to produce a much better product, because it’s all they do.
So what makes Flywheel different from your typical spin classes?
– They have special shoes that click into the pedals. At David Barton Gym, my feet sometimes felt weird because they weren’t specially-designed for spin and fit differently into the pedals.
– Flywheel has a special gauge that shows resistance, pace, and energy output in an easy-to-read format
– It’s competitive! Regular attendees are assigned a username and they can track their energy output through class, that week, that month… all against other regulars!
Besides the differences in the class, the facilities were really nice. The lockers didn’t require a lock – instead you program an easy to remember four digit code. The showers were clean and stocked with everything you need to get ready after a sweat session, including shower necessities like shampoo, conditioner, dry shampoo, spray deodorant and more.

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After class, Protein Bar hooked everyone up with cold-pressed juice, headbands, free smoothie cards, and special Protein Bar trail mix. The cold-pressed juice was a refreshing tangy mix of greens – perfect for rehydrating after class. I later redeemed my smoothie card for an Avo-Matcha smoothie – a new favorite of mine.
Flywheel and Protein Bar

 

All in all, Flywheel is expensive. There’s no way around it. Depending on the package you buy, it’s about $20-25 per class. What I can tell you is that if you’ll actually use it, it’s definitely worth it. You’re not going to get that kind of workout on your own (unless you’re REALLY good at motivating yourself and know what you’re doing), or at a fitness studio (barre, pilates, etc.). For people who want to be fit or are looking to lose weight, this is a great step in the right direction.
At any rate, I’m definitely going back – who’s with me?
Thanks to Teddy from Protein Bar for providing photos!
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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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Beauty, Life,

Faux Tanning For Dummies

no comment

For the last two months I’ve sacrificed my body to test multiple faux tanning products. I received many odd looks at my streaky skin and several comments from friends about my inconsistent skin color. It was all worth it to find the most effective faux tanning solution for any time of year.

With my fair and sensitive skin, products react differently on my body than most people but there is a process for application regardless of your skin type or product.

Step 1: Always exfoliate. Scrub away dead skin cells while paying close attention to your knees, elbows, ankles and heels.

Step 2: Moisturize. Excess tanner will grab onto dead skin which often lies in those obvious areas along your elbows, knees and heels.

Step 3: Start with your arms when applying your price of choice. Then to your shoulders and wrists, this avoids dense areas of product at your hand and wrist area. Cover your legs starting with your thighs to the tops of your feet. I always apply to stomach and chest last.

Step 4: Throughly rinse your hands to remove tanner from creases.

Trick: add a small amount of product to the tops of your hands and blend.

Now that you know what to do, here are some product reviews to help you decide what to use!

Faux Tanning For Dummies

Product: Tan Towel
Price: $20 for two body and two face towels at Sephora
Rating: One Star
Review: The tan towel product works miracles on some people, but not me. The tan towel is meant to be applied the night before. Tan towels are a colorless and nearly odorless disposable towel. They leave embarrassing inconsistencies on my skin, making the fake tan look extremely obvious and disproportioned. It also leaves my skin very warm while the product is setting in.

Faux Tanning For Dummies

Product: St. Tropez Bronzing Foam
Rating: Two Stars
Price: $12 at Ulta
Review: St. Tropez is an amazing and trustworthy brand, so I had to try their Bronzing Foam. The results were mediocre. It’s not the best self tanner I’ve ever used, but it’s not the worst. The scent was extremely strong to the point it was waking me up at night. The application was easy and essentially fool-proof, leaving little to no streaks. I would recommend this product if you don’t mind the odor.

Faux Tanning For Dummies

Product: Avene Moisturizing Self Tanning Lotion
Price: $28 on Amazon
Rating: One Star
Review: This lotion goes on odorless and colorless, but unfortunately leaves endless streaks similar to my issues with the tan towel. It also leaves my skin warmer than usual. Application is fairly simple with a detailed guide to the amount of lotion that should be applied per each area of your body. All in all, I would not use this product again.

Faux Tanning For Dummies

Product: Neutrogena Micro Mist Airbrush Sunless Tan
Price: $15 at CVS (In the sunscreen section)
Rating: Five Stars
Review: I love and live by this product. Spray the mist directly onto clean, dry skin, keeping the can about six inches away from your body. The mist is almost impossible to mess up or cause streaking. Even better, it has no scent after application. It leaves a beautiful glow on your skin and can be applied several times per week. As always, be cautious about ankles and elbows.

Faux Tanning For Dummies

Product: Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer
Price: $14 at CVS
Rating: Five Stars
Review: This is one of my favorite products year-round. When you need a touch of color any time of the year this is your product. Apply as your daily lotion and watch as your skin shows a subtle tan over the next seven days. Also available in firming body lotion and face lotion.

Have you tried any other faux-tanning beauty products? Share your experiences in the comments!

chicago cheap ass (15)
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.

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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!

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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.

foodiechats

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.

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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.

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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 🙂

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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.

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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.

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

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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!

foodiechats

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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). 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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Beauty, Life,

Guide: Sunscreen for Every Occasion this Summer

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When it comes to summer, there’s one golden rule of thumb – bottom line, always wear sunscreen. After burning one too many times, I’ve become a big advocate of sunscreen and faux tanning methods. Everyone’s skin tone is different: I have extremely sensitive and fair skin. Your level of protection will vary, but always use something.

Face:

I apply 50-70 SPF daily before moisturizing. Even if your moisturizer and makeup have SPF, it’s usually not good enough. I use Aspire Life from Che Sguardo in River North. It’s a small family owned business that caters to makeup artists. Kathy is an expert when it comes to beauty, makeup and skincare.  Aspire Life sunscreen works as a moisturizer as well as a sunscreen – two in one!  I love it because it doesn’t over saturate your face but rather works like a serum.  Sometimes traditional sunscreen can be dense and leave oil that causes blemishes. Protect your skin the right way, don’t make it worse!

Pool and beach days:

I use 70 SPF Neutrogena Sport which is a bit heavier but for full sun days, it’s important to stay protected and wash your face after being in the sun. Don’t forget – the water reflects the sun which ups your chances of getting burned!

Body:

I use anywhere from 30-50 SPF with several applications throughout the day. Don’t forget your ears, the tops of your feet and back. The past few years, I’ve been using the spray sunscreens. It’s a more even application without that embarrassing hand print or missing section. And there’s no reason not to do it when application is so easy!

What’s your sunscreen routine? Let us know in the comments!

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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.

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Beauty, Life,

4th of July Beauty Essentials

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Independence Day should be all about freedom. Freedom from work, responsibilities and worries.This holiday should be spent in a pool, on a beach or floating in a lake. Keep your beauty and skin routine as simple as your weekend.

Here are my Fourth of July essentials:

Neutrogena Sport Face Spf 70 ($7) 

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Full sun, partly cloudly or cloudy I apply sunscreen.  I’ve learned the hard way that the sun will burn you when you least expect it.  This is my favorite sunscreen for an active day. Protecting your face is the most important part of your routine, so reapply when necessary or at least every three to four hours.

Jao Refresher ($10 at Che Sguardo and other beauty stores) 

This little bottle is a portable sink.  Not just for your hands as a sanitizer but can also be used as a zit zapper, body splash, after shave and deodorant!  I always keep a bottle of this in my purse for emergencies making it perfect for a scorching 4th of July weekend!

Neutrogena Micro Mist Airbrush Sunless Tan ($15) – stay tuned for my sunless tanner review!

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I’m in love with this mist.  I’ve tried countless different types of sunless tanner.  This nearly odorless spray requires very little effort. Just spray it on your skin after you shower and let it dry.  In 8 hours you’ll be two-three shades darker.  The spray without blending sits on your skin naturally, avoiding any blotches.

Red White Blue & Sparkle OPI & Orly nail polish ($9 each) 

Stop wasting money on manicures, you’re a fully capable human and can do your own nails. My trick is in the top coat (Seche Vite $9 at Sally’s Beauty Supplies).  Everyone’s nail beds are different.  Find out what nail polish brand works best for you and stick with it.Kms California:  Hairplay Sea Salt Spray ($12) 
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Keep your hair wavy and beach sexy from day to night with this Sea Salt Spray.  Simply spray your entire head after showering (or swimming) when damp. The spray gives you an effortless wave with a refreshing scent.

What products are you using on the fourth of July? Let us know in the comments!