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new belgium brewing


CheapWeek: Beer on Beer on Beer

8/17 – Potbelly and Empanadas


I have friends in high places. When I say that, I mean my best friend Zack works at Potbelly corporate and occasionally bestows free sandwich cards on me. I used one today and always enjoy the jealous looks I get… Anyways, I decided that Potbelly wasn’t enough and headed over to Portillo’s for some cheese fries. My diet starts tomorrow. In a week.

Dan and I fixed the empanadas we tried to make the night before. Our fatal flaw was the crush, so we got some Pillsbury biscuits and flattened them out to make empanada crusts. It worked out so beautifully. Until we get the dough right, I’m planning on always having a backup plan in my fridge.

8/18 – Slurping Turtle and a Friendly Visit


We had a new person start at work and were charged with taking him to lunch. Fine by me! I took the opportunity to suggest one of my favorite ramen spots – Slurping Turtle. The ramen is amazing. The broth is so good and not so spicy that you can’t handle it. The noodles are the perfect consistency. The only bad thing I can say about it is that they default to plastic chopsticks and I splashed ramen broth everywhere. I guess they don’t call it Slurping Turtle for nothing.


The truly awesome event of the day was my best friend Jessica from when I studied abroad in Barcelona coming to visit from New York! We spent our first night reunited watching The Great Gatsby (one of my favorites) and made pasta. We have a lot of little traditions when we spend time together and that’s one of them. She ended up making a tomato sauce from scratch that integrated bacon grease. My hero. It was a relaxing but necessary night, since the rest of the week was to be filled up with a bunch of tourist and tradition-related activities.

8/19 – Beach and 3 Sheeps Brewing


Today and tomorrow were the first vacation days I’ve taken in awhile, and I intended to use them to the fullest. After making english muffin breakfast sandwiches with bacon, peanut butter and banana, we headed to North Avenue Beach. Jessica has been to Chicago before, but never to the beach. We took Divvy (for Jessica) and my bike there to get in a little exercise and for the experience of biking the lakefront path – a must-do for any person visiting Chicago. We met up with my friend Rob and read our books and soaked up the sun. In my case, a little too much. Damn Irish skin.


We went home to rinse off the sand, then decided we both needed haircuts. I was past due for one by about a month or two. I went to my new favorite spot – Civello. They do an awesome Groupon deal for a haircut (sold out right now but usually restocks in the beginning of the month) in the Young Professional Salon. Civello is an Aveda salon, so if you like their products, you’ll like this place. The “Young Professionals” have yet to disappoint me. Always a pleasant experience with aromatherapy, arm massage, head massage… and professional haircut and style. Jessica was very satisfied with hers as well.


We stopped at Adagio Teas (because we’re obsessed with tea as you’ll soon discover) and I found out they do COLD BREW TEA. After a brief shopping trip, we headed over to Lakeshore Beverage for a blogger beer tasting with 3 Sheeps Brewing. The discussion was centered around dark beers. I’ll admit that I’m not the type to pick a dark beer when given a choice, but I came to the event with an open mind. We started with 3 Sheeps Really Cool Waterslides (an IPA), then dove into Paid Time Off, Baaad Boy Black Wheat and Hello My Name is Joe. I loved that we had access to Grant Pauly, the brewer and head honcho. My boyfriend joined Jessica and us. He’s a homebrewer and will be writing articles related to beers and brewing soon on the blog – stay tuned!

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We made it home a little buzzed on dark brews and Jessica made the most badass dinner – twice baked potatoes and steak. I passed out after filling up my belly.

8/20 – The Art Institute and Mario’s Table


I got a lot of Fitbit steps in today. I woke up slowly and enjoyed a simple breakfast with Jessica while waiting for my sister to drive up to the city. We made our way down to the Art Institute, since Thursdays are Illinois resident free days. Unfortunately that deal didn’t start until 5pm. So we used our time to get some downtown shopping done. I got a tea canister and some jasmine green tea from DavidsTea that was on sale. Then we went to Forever 21. Forever 21 has the cutest and most affordable workout gear… I couldn’t stop myself from getting a new top.

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Soon, we headed back to the Art Institute and I took Jessica and Darya through Asian Art exhibits, some American classics, and Greek statues. After all the shopping and art, we were getting hangry.


One of Social Media Beast’s clients is Mario’s Table, and today happened to be their 20th anniversary party. So we headed there. Just as we got there, several of my coworkers were leaving, having just enjoyed a delicious Italian meal. My boss was there with family and friends and sent us a free appetizer… what a guy. The wine was $20 (regularly $35), the chicken parmesan I got was seasoned perfectly, and I got a free bottle of olive oil to take home. And a gift card to come back. What a great event.

8/21 – Cafe Baba Reeba and a Drag Show at Hydrate


Jessica and I both had to work today, so we chilled on the couch together and got it done. We took a late afternoon jog, then cleaned up for dinner. It was a true Barcelona reunion, since we planned on meeting another study abroad friend (Chris) at a Spanish tapas place, my favorite – Cafe Baba Reeba. We enjoyed some shared bites and mango “sangria,” then headed to Chris’ place for a quick drink. He has the cutest little baby kitten! I fell in love.


Later in the evening, we went to Hydrate Night Club in Boystown for a drag show. I’d never been to a real drag show, so this was an awesome experience to share with Jessica and Chris. Hydrate is $5 to get into the drag show with a two drink minimum, but the drinks are pretty affordable. Make sure to bring some singles to tip the performers if you go. Also, there’s some performers the straight ladies will appreciate… but I’ll let you go there and figure it out for yourself 😉

8/22 – Royal Run, Chinatown and Afternoon Tea at the Allis


Jessica and I didn’t stay out late after the drag show, since we had a run early this morning. It was the Royal Run, and I’ve got to say… the event kind of sucked. Not that many people showed up, the start location was a 10 minute drive from the one listed on all race materials, and it wasn’t a full 5k… whoops. Regardless, it was Jessica’s first 5k, and I was happy to share the experience with her. And we got some capes. People were cheering us on the whole time.


We took a little nap, the headed to Chinatown. Jessica has a goal to visit every Chinatown, and Chicago was no exception. Unfortunately, it wasn’t Jessica’s favorite. Though we did drink some delicious bubble tea and shared some gargantuan noodle dishes. Jessica realized too late that a family of four shared the dish she ended up ordering… no chance of finishing it. Definitely check it out if you’re in Chinatown with a friend. Entrees are around $10 and can easily serve two or more.


One of our traditions is getting afternoon tea. Today I took Jessica to The Allis, one of the public restaurants of Soho House. The serve a mean afternoon tea, and even accommodated Jessica’s egg allergies. The space is adorable – the perfect place to take a group of girls or your mom.

Jessica and I made our way home, then I joined my boyfriend in Logan Square for a few hours. Deschutes Brewery had a public event in a park, not unlike New Beligum’s event earlier in the summer. There were a bunch of different types of beer, food trucks, and live music.

I didn’t stay up late – it was Jessica’s last night in town. I went home and we relaxed for the rest of the night.

This kitty was in my hallway. Signs around the building claim he just walked in and nobody knew his owner. So I had an apartment cat for about... an hour.

This kitty was in my hallway. Signs around the building claim he just walked in and nobody knew his owner. So I had an apartment cat for about… an hour.

8/23 – One Year Anniversary <3

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Jessica left super early… like 5am. I spent most of the day lounging around with my boyfrend. We watch A Clockwork Orange… can you believe I’ve never seen it? Later in the day, we headed for Wicker Park. We don’t actually know when to count our one year anniversary, but decided that we would celebrate it today. We started the night at Big Star. We both love tacos, so it’s weird that we hadn’t given Big Star a chance yet. It didn’t disappoint – the tacos had unique flavors and were quite satisfying. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time when you come – there’s ALWAYS a line. Even Sunday at 9pm. After indulging on tacos and beer, we headed right across the street to Violet Hour. The theme of the night was places we’ve never been to. After Violet Hour got a James Beard award for Outstanding Bar Program, I knew I had to make it in. Besides all the other glowing recommendations from friends. It’s an interesting place – a speakeasy that’s hard to find unless there’s already a line queueing up. We went inside and they offered us some top-shelf liquor to sip on while making our drinks. We both got too and were considerably tipsy upon leaving. Although the drinks are more expensive here than your typical bar, they’re more dense with liquor. Plus they taste great! I’ll admit I’m not huge on craft cocktails, but I appreciated all the work that went into these.

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Thanks to my amazing photographer friend Jessica Chuang for some of these pictures!


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


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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.