Browsing Tag

metra

IMG_4119
CheapWeek,

CheapWeek: Busy Week, Busy Weekend

7/20 – Farmer’s Fridge and Furious Spoon
Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 3.44.26 PM
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.
 Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 3.44.37 PM
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
IMG_4101
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.
Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 3.39.57 PM
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
IMG_4119
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.
Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 3.40.10 PM
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.
Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 3.40.35 PM
7/25 – Big Ten 10k and a Trip to the Suburbs
IMG_4139
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.
Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 3.40.44 PM
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
Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 3.40.58 PM
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.
Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 3.44.46 PM

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

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.

foodiechats

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!

foodiechats

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.

foodiechats

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.

foodiechats

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 🙂

thecrew

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.

foodiechats

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.

foodiechats

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

foodiechats

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

CheapWeek: Barcocina, Breakroom Brewery and PIQNIQ
CheapWeek,

CheapWeek: Barcocina, Breakroom Brewery and PIQNIQ

6/1 – CelebriTEA and Noodles & Company

Last week I hit “CelebriTEA” status at Argo Tea. I’m kind of in love with the place, and they love their customers back with a pretty awesome loyalty program. After 25 visits, I’ve earned $1 off all purchases before 9am (perfect for right before work), a free birthday drink, $5 in credit after every 10 visits, and a free looseleaf tea gift. The perks are all pretty awesome, but I wish I had more of a choice over which looseleaf tea I got to choose. I ended up picking the oolong formosa, which was one of the four options. Stay tuned for a post featuring Argo Tea and some other awesome tea spots in Chicago!

CheapWeek: Barcocina, Breakroom Brewery and PIQNIQ

Also, a couple of weeks back, I was participating in a twitter chat with Noodles & Company Just for tweeting at them, they sent me two free entree coupons. I’d encourage you to follow your favorite companies on Twitter… they tend to offer exclusive social media promotions. I once got a free pair of shorts from American Eagle by following their tweets and checking in on Foursquare. Here’s a very basic Twitter list I’ve compiled of companies to follow.

6/2 – Barcocina

Today I checked out a new Lakeview restaurant – Barcocina. It opened up just as I was moving out of the neighborhood! But a good excuse to come back at any rate.

CheapWeek: Barcocina, Breakroom Brewery and PIQNIQ

It’s got a cool vibe and is an excellent bar to check out now that summer’s happening in full force (garage-door openings for the win). If you like upscale Mexican cuisine and inventive cocktails, you’ll love Barcocina. Look out for a post on Choose Chicago’s blog soon.

CheapWeek: Barcocina, Breakroom Brewery and PIQNIQ

6/3 – Breakroom Brewery

CheapWeek: Barcocina, Breakroom Brewery and PIQNIQ

One of my best friends from high school was in town this week and we decided it would be awesome if a reunion included a trip to a brewery and a Blackhawks game. Breakroom Brewery is about a mile down the street from my boyfriend and just opened fairly recently. It has a garage door front (similar to Barcocina) and a plenty of TVs and a projector to enjoy the Blackhawks game. The beer was delicious – I tried three different varieties. The food was also pretty scrumptious. We tried the scotch egg, which was a first for me. The burgers and beer-soaked fries hit the spot.

6/4 – RCN Event

CheapWeek: Barcocina, Breakroom Brewery and PIQNIQ

Today I went to one of my favorite speaker events to date. RCN hosted speaker Patrick Schwerdtfeger for the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce. This event was an incredible value at $20. First of all – amazing buffet breakfast. Then a book Schwerdtfeger wrote called Marketing Shortcuts for the Self-Employed. I’m almost done with it and have gotten so many good ideas for promoting and updating the blog! But before reading the book, I was inspired by the talk and met some interesting people. RCN gave some other cool freebies away – a USB hub, a portable computer mouse, and an external battery charger. I’ll be on the lookout for more events like this. If your company is awesome and invests in your professional development (or you’re looking for a great networking opportunity), you need to be on the lookout for events like this. I talked to a friend today about writing such a feature, so look forward to some networking event roundups in the near future!

6/5 – Protein Bar Party and Annoyance Improv Show

CheapWeek: Barcocina, Breakroom Brewery and PIQNIQ

As a follow up to a post I wrote about Salads in the Loop, I was invited to Protein Bar’s VIP summer sampling party. Basically, they let us test new menu items and created some ridiculously good cocktails with their favorite ingredients that you wouldn’t normally be able to get. I tasted some new BBQ chicken entrees and finally tried the Avo-Matcha smoothie (the perfect afternoon pick-me-up), and even met one of Protein Bar’s investors! He actually just wrote a post for me about credit card rewards after we struck up a camaraderie.

After the party, I went with my best friend Nico to the Annoyance Theater. It was my first time there and I had a blast. Nico’s show Grounded is in the small theater, so it’s a very intimate experience. I hit up the bar afterwards and got a ridiculous amount of chicken nuggets for $5. Two thumbs up from this Cheap Ass.

6/6 – PIQNIQ

Today I attended my first PIQNIQ music festival at Tinley Park. The suburbs are hard to get to if you don’t have a car/want to thoroughly enjoy yourself alcohol-wise at a festival. We took the Metra from the Lasalle Street Station. An $8 weekend pass covers you for the full weekend. Metra prices have been raised exponentially since I commuted last year… and it’s only going to get worse. Save your train travel for the weekend whenever possible. And follow my festival tips for maximizing your experience (and money!).

6/7 – Moving

So this whole week my boyfriend (and his brothers! thank you guys!!) has been helping me move, one carload at a time. Today my parents came up with some of the bigger furniture pieces, kitchen stuff, and childhood memories. I’ve been neglecting Chicago Cheap Ass because this has been taking so much of my time and energy. But it’s finally done! Well… minus organization. I’m so relieved.

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

Screen shot 2015-05-31 at 10.10.09 PM
CheapWeek,

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

11297822_10153374838117760_1994699384_n

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.

11270153_10153374838097760_1480114102_n

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!

11279974_10153374838107760_2062232219_n

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!

11354740_10153374838102760_1935861133_n

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!

11304241_10153374845792760_1931607583_n

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!

11349856_10153374838112760_198866523_n

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.