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university of iowa

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CheapWeek: Returning From Hiatus!

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

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

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CheapWeek: Burger Binge, Chuck Palahniuk and Moving

5/25 – Postmates Epic Burger

The week started off on a great note since Monday was Memorial Day. I cooked up a big breakfast for my sister and boyfriend, and ordered a pretty rad lunch from Postmates, which was offering free Epic Burger (up to 2) for Memorial Day weekend. I beat the “surge” pricing by ordering right when the freebie was offered, but throughout the weekend saw it go as high as 3x the delivery price. No bueno. When using Postmates plan accordingly.

5/26 – Cooking Leftovers

I had to be out of my apartment by Friday night, so this week was spent getting creative with what was left in my fridge. It’s amazing how many different things you can make with a limited amount of materials. One delicious but weird combination was some turkey sloppy joe meat with rice and broccoli.

5/27 – Yelp Burger Binge, Reddit, StumbleUpon and the University of Iowa


This week was Yelp’s “Burger Binge” week and several delicious Chicago burger joints had $5 specials. Perhaps the best special was at Flub a Dub Chubs, where I got a ridiculously good burger (the “Grandma K” burger had a pretzel bun, goat cheese, and bacon), fries, and a drink for $5. Normally that would’ve been at least $15. You may have missed this year’s Burger Binge week, but follow Yelp Chicago on Twitter for more local Chicago events.


I made huge strides today in blog traffic after discovering how great of referral traffic can come from Reddit and StumbleUpon. I double my monthly average visitors in the span of two days. Unreal.

Finally, my old management professor Ken Brown (now the Associate Dean of the business school!) gave a shout out to my blog on his blog.

5/28 – 25 Degrees burgers and Falafill Groupon

Because one burger is not enough to qualify as a “binge,” I went to another of Yelp’s Burger Binge week spots for lunch with a friend. 25 Degrees had a great burger special for $5 when they were usually $13. Although I noticed while there that they do a lunch special that’s $13 for a burger, fries, and a beer. I’ll be back! This time I got a Specialty #1(Arugula, Thousand Island, Bacon, Mindoro Blue, Fontina Cheese) and sweet potato fries with a garlic aioli dipping sauce. Not a bad way to spend lunch!


I spent the night getting some packing done and wanted to use one of the last Groupons I had for my neighborhood. This one was for a place called Falafill, which is a fast casual mediterranean place. The Groupon was for two entrees and two sides, but honestly the entrees were sufficient without needing the sides. I got a bowl with meat, rice, and a pita. They let you take that to their “Mezza Bar” where you load up on typical mediterranean veggie dishes. You can fit a lot of these sides in the bowl. Entrees are $9.50, but worth it if you load up before you leave.

5/29 – MOVING

Today was a mess of boxes and logistics. My boyfriend and his brothers graciously helped me move from my old apartment to my boyfriend’s garage (have to wait a few days to move into my new place in Roscoe Village). Having strong men around to help with these sorts of things is awesome – just make sure to reward them with pizza and beer!


One thing worth mentioning is that I FINALLY tried 5411 Empanadas before vacating the neighborhood of Lakeview. They had some incredible flavors like the above pictured Malbec Beef, a Goat Cheese/Dates/Bacon empanadas, and a Chorizo/Patatas Bravas version. At $2.50 a piece, they won’t break the bank and can make a good snack or meal. They have a food truck that circles around the Loop! Check their Twitter for locations.

Finally, my latest blog post for Choose Chicago was posted, which is about Remington’s – a new restaurant addition to Michigan Avenue.

5/30 – Wisconsin Beer and Cheese Cruise and Chuck Palahniuk

Saturday was the busiest day of the week (keeping in mind that I just packed up my life and moved out of my apartment!). My boyfriend and I got up early to go to Navy Pier (tourists) to board the Mystic Blue for a Wisconsin Beer and Cheese Cruise. I’d been to an event by the same organizers before and was excited to see how it would differ on a boat. The weather sucked, but luckily the festivities were indoors. We got 20 tickets each and a tasting glass and honestly didn’t even make it through all of the tickets because each vendor gave such generous pours. Various cheeses, sausages, and pastries were passed around as everyone tasted all the great alcoholic beverages Wisconsin has to offer. I would definitely do it again!


After the boat came back to the pier, we hustled to Union Station for the next part of our day, which required going to Naperville. If you’re not a regular Metra commuter, you may not be aware of the Weekend Passes, which allow you unlimited train rides on Saturday and Sunday (and some holidays) for $8. Usually train fare to the suburb where my parents live is that much for one way, so don’t forget to ask for this deal!


Once in Naperville, we split a cab with some other attendees of the event we were headed to. My favorite author, Chuck Palahniuk, was in town for a speaking event to promote his new book. Tickets were $40 and included signed copies of that book and the Fight Club 2 comic. It was a pretty incredible event – he read some short stories, led some fun competitions, and answered fans’ burning questions. We hung out at the hotel bar afterwards to watch the Blackhawks win. We were lucky to catch Chuck Palahniuk as he was heading out and got a picture! He answered my burning question about the ending of Survivor, but I won’t spoil it here… 🙂

5/31 – Ay Ay Picante Groupon

After getting home late Saturday night, I had to sleep in. I had a pretty lazy day, although I did publish another article reviewing the Fitbit Aria. I had another Groupon burning a hole in my pocket (so to say), which was only about a mile from my boyfriend’s house. Plus it’s BYOB! We went to Ay Ay Picante which serves Peruvian food. I’ve got to get acquainted with the menu because we’re going to Peru this September 🙂 The Groupon was for $30 worth of food and it was about $20 more than that after two entrees and an appetizer. I’d recommend it!

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