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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.

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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.

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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!

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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: 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.