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
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.
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.
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 🙂
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Many of my friends have been in situations where they’re planning a first Tinder date but are unsure of what to do. Keeping in mind that they might end up not even liking the person, it’s important to find cost-effective solutions to get to know someone.
While going to the beach is limited to the (few) summer months in Chicago, this is actually a nice, low-key way to get to know someone new. You can BYOB (at your own risk!) instead of paying an expensive bar tab. You may also get to see what your date looks like in a swimsuit. Win-win all around. For those who like to multi-task, the beach is a great opportunity to soak in the sun and play a game of beach volleyball, so that even if your date sucks, you can cross gym and tan off your list for the day (the only thing left to do is laundry!).
Go on a picnic.
Ok, it might sound lame to you, but there are so many beautiful parks in Chicago. There’s the Chicago Botanical Garden, Millenium Park, and more. You can even visit the Lincoln Park Zoo to make it look like you really planned things out. If you’re a foodie, make some delicious sandwiches to really impress your date. Have them bring the booze. Sharing is caring (and cost-effective).
Most Chicagoans already have a bike, but Divvy day passes are only $7 and are a good excuse to explore Chicago while getting a cardio workout. I highly recommend riding the lakefront path for a picturesque view of Lake Michigan. You can even tie in the picnic or beach idea if things are going well and you want to extend the date.
There certainly is no shortage of improv shows in Chicago. They make for a great first date because they help break the ice. Tickets range from free to $20 per person, but everyone has an improv friend looking for audience members (just ask!). I suggest getting your buzz on before going in (ideas for happy hour coming up!), and buying something to sip on once you get to the theater. Here are a couple solid options for improv shows: Second City iO Theater
Go to the Movies.
No, I’m not talking about the typical expensive movie theater route. See a post I wrote awhile back about cheap movie-seeing alternatives.
Depending on how discerning your tastes, Chicago has plenty of shows in the $10-20 range any night of the week. Another option worth looking into is Jukely, which offers “unlimited” concerts for $25/month. To guarantee a plus-one, you can pay $45/month for “unlimited” concerts for two. Jukely represents a lot of Chicago music venues, so there’s bound to be something you (and your date) will enjoy. Plus you’ll seem like a badass for having concert ticket hookups.
Go out to eat (or drink).
Let’s talk about a unique approach to the standard first date plan. Before planning a date, check out SmallTabs, which has aggregated happy hour specials from almost 500 bars in Chicago. You can organize your options by day of the week and Chicago neighborhood.
Also worth mentioning are some cool bars that will give you an extra bang for your buck. Check out Guthrie’s to test your date’s hand at various board games. Headquarters, which has two locations (River North and Lakeview), pairs free arcade games with craft beers and specialty cocktails.
Another option for saving a few bucks your meal is to sign up for Spring Rewards. Spring Rewards allows you to be a Cheap Ass on the sly.
Batting Cages, Mini-Golf, etc. If the idea of getting your date hot and sweaty gets you going, consider doing something active. Sluggers tends to run Groupon deals all the time for their batting cages. And, although I haven’t personally been there, Diversey Range seems to have decent pricing for mini-golf ($10 per person).
A rather unique approach to a first date is attending an art gallery opening. This is a good way to open up and get into your date’s head. It also makes you seem cultured. Plus, there’s usually free wine.
MuseumsArt galleries and museums? You must be a really classy date. Several of Chicago’s finest museums have free days once a week/month/etc. Check out Choose Chicago’s list that breaks down where and when to go.
So the next time you go on a first Tinder date, stand out from the crowd and do something interesting. Or at least save some money before you decide if your date is worth it.
What cheap Chicago Tinder dates have you gone on that you would recommend?