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CheapWeek,

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,

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.