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CheapWeek,

CheapWeek: Cupid’s Undie Run

7/13 – Leftovers and Ramen Contest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two blog posts I wrote were published today.

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

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

7/16 – Giveaway, Hootsuite Ambassador and Colorado!

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

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

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

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

7/17 – Camp Cupid Day 1

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

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

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

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7/18 – Camp Cupid Day 2

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

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7/19 – Coming Home & Surprise Party

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

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

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

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CheapWeek: 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: 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

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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#CheapWeek – Remington’s, Blackhawks, and Belmont-Sheffield Music Fest

5/18 – #BikeLakeview and Zipcar

Today was a good day for freebies. After checking in to Kuma’s Corner using the hashtag “#BikeLakeview,” I won a $25 giftcard to any participating Lakeview Chamber of Commerce store. It pays to know what’s going on in the social world. If you’re on Twitter, you should check out the Chicago lists I made, keeping track of these promotions (or just follow me. I retweet great offers on a regular basis).

In other news, Zipcar will be giving away free passes to a popular Chicago music festival soon. I do work for them as a brand ambassador on the weekends, so I already scored two one-day passes for me and my boyfriend. 🙂

5/19 – Just Salad and Bull & Bear

I came to the office today with a bunch of packages waiting for me. I’ve been using the office as my shipping address because I’m about to move. Two of the packages were some pasta sauces I’ll be reviewing soon (complete with recipes!), as well as a half-priced Graze snack box. The final box was a perk claimed from Klout. If you haven’t heard of Klout before, it’s a platform that aggregates the sum of your influence on all the social channels you’re active on. Every once in awhile, you’re eligible to receive cool “perks” offered by different companies. In the past, I’ve gotten dog treats, fast food gift cards, and more based on the topics I’m an “expert” in. This time it was a free Clinique moisturizing lotion – worth $30!

#CheapWeek - Remington's, Blackhawks, and Belmont-Sheffield Music Fest

For lunch, I went to Just Salad, in order to finish my research for the upcoming post about best Salads in the Loop. I got an awesome Buffalo Chicken salad and reusable salad bowl… I’ll explain why you should also get this bowl in the upcoming post 🙂

After work, I hung out with a couple of my old Groupon coworkers. Our original plan was to go to Rockit Bar & Grill, but as part of their re-branding, they neglected to create a daily menu of specials. LAME. So instead we hit up an old favorite, Bull & Bear, where we got half-priced appetizers (bacon cheese fries) and half-priced bottles of wine. We ended the night at Highline, where it was surprisingly easy to get a spacious booth in front of a TV to watch the Blackhawks game.

5/20 – Remington’s and Chicago Craft Beer Week

Today was easily the best day of the week.

It started with getting a free book in the mail after participating in an AMA webinar the previous week. I love business books, so this was a really nice surprise.

#CheapWeek - Remington's, Blackhawks, and Belmont-Sheffield Music Fest

Then I headed over to Remington’s with a friend for the best lunch I’ve ever had (especially on a work day). We sampled cocktails, appetizers, soup and two different sandwiches in the name of an upcoming Choose Chicago blog post. I’ll save the details for the upcoming review, but know that it was amazing and you need to try it out for yourself.

#CheapWeek - Remington's, Blackhawks, and Belmont-Sheffield Music Fest

As my boyfriend is a homebrewer, we couldn’t get through this week without planning on going to a Chicago Craft Beer Week event. I gave him a list to choose from, and he decided on a Medieval Craft Beer dinner at Cobra Lounge. All Rise Brewing operates out of Cobra Lounge, so for $35, we had unlimited beer and a dinner of spit-roasted pig, turkey, roasted veggies, salad, cheese, fruit, and cake. They even gave us to-go boxes at the end so we could enjoy it again the next day! What a deal. I’m told they’re thinking of doing this more often, so you should follow them on their social channels if that’s something of interest to you!

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Everyone needs a day devoid of craziness – this was mine 🙂

5/22 – Pitch Perfect

Today I finally saw Pitch Perfect. The only thing I want to mention here that hasn’t already been said elsewhere on this blog is that if you can get out of the city to see a movie – do it. The further you are away from the city center, the cheaper tickets will be. Instead of paying $12 per person to see Pitch Perfect, it was $12 for two tickets in Forest Park. Probably stating the obvious, but definitely worth mentioning.

5/23 – BLACKHAWKS JERSEY

#CheapWeek - Remington's, Blackhawks, and Belmont-Sheffield Music Fest

It was one of my boyfriend’s cousin’s birthday today and again I found myself out in Forest Park. Yes, I know this is CHICAGO Cheap Ass, but Forest Park is accessible via CTA Blue Line. Anyways, we went to O’Sullivan’s Public House and drank while watching the Blackhawks game. They were giving away raffle tickets for an authentic Crawford jersey after the game, and I WON IT. I don’t often win things, so that was pretty awesome.

5/24 – Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival

#CheapWeek - Remington's, Blackhawks, and Belmont-Sheffield Music Fest

Source: TransitTees.com

I ended off the week by inviting my sister to spend the day with me. She and my parents live in the burbs, so I love showing them around downtown when they have the chance to come up. We started the day with shopping, then dinner. We checked out Buena Vista in Lakeview, which is BYOB. BYOB restaurants are the greatest thing, and there are so many in Chicago. I’ll write a post about my picks, soon. After dinner, we checked out the Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival. They had cover bands, snacks, and some good shopping. It was a suggested donation of $5, which is pretty typical of neighborhood festivals. We picked up some delicious donuts and some awesome tank tops from Transit Tees. I spent a good chunk of change today, but a lot of it went towards treating my sister who’s birthday is coming up… money well spent!

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