Thursday, September 23, 2010

Quick Post!

Hey guys! I just found some free ice cream for us on Saturday and Monday: . So far this week we have kept on budget, cooking a bunch of couscous, making AMAZING butternut squash soup (pretty much exactly copied from the Barefoot Contessa) found at . It's lasted all week (made it Monday, squash on sale for $.59 an lb.) I bring it to work (double bagged in ziplocks) heat it up in a coffee cup, and have it with my sandwich. Also, I've run three times this week (once even waking up at 6:30 to do so, before work) and am really happy about it. Job is for sure ending this week, but I already have a few days in the next two weeks as a bank receptionist, so even though the future's bleak, it's not devastating (drama much?) Not too much else!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Yipes! It's been a while

Sooooo, what's the excuse? Well, I am apt to have many of those, but lets just get down to the essentials. First of all, my amazing Dad was in town last weekend. It was the first time he's ever stayed at one of my places in Chicago (going on my 6th year here) and he really treated myself and my boyfriend like royalty. We went out to breakfast, walked around my neighborhood, went to the movies, went to a play, got to eat dinner at HB Restaurant and The Purple Pig.... essentially nothing you can do when you're on a budget. It was such an amazing treat, and I didn't really know how to chronicle it without sounding like a total brat. Additionally my boyfriend's been out of town on and off for the past week, so that's pretty much all expenses paid. What that adds up to is monetary confusion. How much have we spent, or "spent", how much do we have left?

At the end of the day (or beginning of the week) my dad was gone and our cupboards were growing cobwebs. We took a much needed trip to Target and got stuff like toothpaste, Clorox wipes, and uh, food, that we really had been stretching to go without (ahem, yeah, you don't need Clorox wipes. But when you're lazy, it's a really easy motivator to get cleaning.)

So what have I been doing to keep up with my LPBNB philosophy? First of all, I've been applying/signing up for a bunch of free tickets and contests. Last night we got to go to the premier of "The Event," a TV show on NBC. We got free t-shirts (normally lame, but these were soft, which I love), free popcorn, and free soda (while technically they were "small", 10 years ago these would have been the large portions.) Verdict: I'm split. Let me give a shoutout to the show: I appreciate the effort you put into this event, and regardless of the free stuff, I'll be watching the next episode. It was multilayered, played on some very real current fears, and seemed like it could have potential. Disses: Dude, you're a blatant mashup of LOST and ALIAS, both by JJ Abrams, both most likely better than you will be. There are other things I'd like to add, but it'll take away from viewing it if you tune in.

Also, I won 2 tickets to the Italian Expo at Navy Pier, which should be fun (worth $15 each.) I heard there will be a bunch of samples, bocci ball lessons, and we're low on olive oil, so we actually have a reason to go.

Definitely been trying to cook more and eat leftovers for breakfast. Today, I made a pretty kick-butt stew. Except for the fact that it took 1.75 hours to cook. Because of the tweaks necessary, I won't write out a full recipe, but just some info if you want to throw one together.

I think beans/chickpeas are a great source of protein and fiber at a LPBNB price. I had some tomato sauce I had made earlier and froze, a can of Campbells tomato soup ($.50 at Target!) , a can of chick peas, an onion, some chopped garlic, uncooked brown rice and leftovers from fajitas yesterday. Rough chopped the onion and garlic, threw them a in a big pot with some olive oil. Add the tomato sauce and soup, rice, chick peas and fajita fixings. My problem was putting in the rice and expecting it to cook in 40 minutes like it does in water. More like double that. Oh! And of course add bunches of salt, pepper, chili, Sriracha (!), thyme, or any other spice you have around. Cover and let simmer till it tastes good! (Yeah, it's still a work in progress.) I topped mine with a little cheese, and may or may not have had a side of Baked Cheetos. But I have enough for lunch, and maybe dinner again tomorrow. As it was more like a stew than a soup, and today was brisk and fall-y, the meal felt perfect.

Another sweet LPBNB tip that I just discovered:! How has no one told me about this site before. Did you know about it? Do people know about it? It's essentially devoted to giving away free tickets to screenings of movies. I'm not one thousand percent sure about how it works, but if you're looking for something to do, I'd check it out.

Life update: The NU temp job is more or less ending tomorrow. I've amped up my job applying this week, as well as my studying. Did I mention that there's no chance in hell I'll ever get into a psych masters program? Yeah, lame. Essentially you need to take some pretty specific courses, which are offered sequentially, where I'd be able to maybe start the possibility of grad school (competing against all these super qualified rivals) in the Fall of 2012. I'm just not quite ready to commit to something like that when I really still don't even know what I want to do. Right now I'm looking into a Human Resources Development Masters, which would involve learning how to help a company function effectively (hiring, counseling, training.) I'd like to think I'd be a step above Toby from The Office, but I might just be falling back into my delusions of grandeur.

Not too much else! Whole Foods is celebrating their 30th anniversary, and most places are celebrating tomorrow with a silly party where you can dress up like you're from the 80s and win a prize (and there may be free cakes samples!)

One more update (from Chicago Reader)

"On Wednesday, September 22, at 8 PM, Lakeview’s Fizz Bar & Grill will offer a free tasting of beers from Ohio’s Great Lakes Brewing Company, each paired with a selection from their new "Beer Nosh" menu, available nightly after 7 PM. The pairings are Commodore Perry IPA with house-made Yukon Gold potato chips and onion dip, Eliot Ness Amber Lager with caponata on filone, Burning River Pale Ale with smoked sausage and a horseradish deviled egg, and Edmund Fitzgerald Porter with chocolate mousse. No reservations required."

What? Free beer? From Ohio? In my 'hood? Well thank you, gods of awesome.

Finally, I have all these little random things that have happened as of late, but they're probably incredibly dull on their own. I'm feeling I may be able to find a pattern in them which will make for an interesting story, the complete opposite of this final blurb. See ya!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Cincinnati Post

Hey my Cincy readers, have you guys heard of a place called Fork Heart Knife? I just stumbled upon it today, and it's making me sad to be 300 miles away. Here's the menu they listed online:

From what I can tell it looks super LPBNB friendly. I checked out their blog and was happy to see all the innovative food they were creating. What really sold me was their first picture, which they lovingly named a "Tomato Bomb"

This is their description:

" got these big old beauties from madison’s and cut out the innerds. the insides smashed with goat cheese, parmesan cheese, roasted garlic, basil, chives, thyme, parsley, lots of salt, pepper, CRP (crushed red pepper, can i rachel ray it like that?) and put that all into the hollow. roasted the tomatoes until cheese mix bubbled, browned and then drizzled some more basil oil on top! holy!"

Dude, I'm practically running to my car to drive home for these. If someone checks it out, can they tell me how the food is? Thank you!

PS: If you want to check out more, here's a link to their website:

PPS: My Mom's the best. I sent her an email with the restaurant's name in the title, and this is her response "You scared me! I thought the subject was a commentary on your emotional state!"

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Wild, Wicked Wednesday

My+My Boyfriend's Total Spent as of Wednesday AM: $18.00

Having gotten a cheapo (aka, free) dinner on Tuesday night, I tried to throw together an impromptu lunch of apples (that we had picked) and peanut butter. Unfortunately we were short on tupperware, so I ended up putting it in a ziplock bag, which ended up looking super sick and unappetizing. I decided to up run across the street for lunch at Treasure Island but managed to make it super economical. I had two steps I could take: go to the lunch counter and spend $5 on a sandwich, or pick out the materials one by one, and make a delicious sammi on my own. Guess which step I took? If you throw the makings together yourself, you can save a good deal of money. A frugal/yummy sandwich will take bread (piece of ciabatta= $.69) two slices of cheese ($.88), and 2-3 slices of meat ($1.16). I even picked up a scrumptious kiwi for $.49, for a grand total of $3.22. The Treasure Island had a little cafe section, with utensils and a packet of mustard, so the lunch ended up coming together beautifully. LPBNB Tip: Never be ashamed of your deli purchases. If you need 4 slices of salami for a calzone, get your four slices (it'll cost about $.20). If you need three slices of bacon, ask for them, and don't even blink. A lot of times a recipe calls for a small amount of something, and the deli is your biggest ally for perfectly portioned proteins.

Anyone who knows me personally and read my previous post was most likely shocked to hear that I was going on a Haunted Chicago Tour. Once you hear the story of how the tour went down, you will most likely feel less shocked.

So let me tell you guys my feelings about fear. For me, fear is everywhere. Turn on the 5:00 news : "Rape, murder, abduction, international murder, international nuclear conflict, global warming, hurricanes, cat caught in a tree, murder, abduction." Since living in Chicago, I've had my beater of a car (sweet though she is) broken into three times. I had the driver side door handle ripped off. I've known people who were beat up and mugged on my block [in Rogers Park, though someone was shot at the end of my street in Lakeview]. I've had my laptop stolen out of my room, and the thief left a bloodstain on my sheets [matched to his DNA. Life in General Tip: Fight for your rights to CSI. Everyone thought I was nuts about that bloodstain, but now that guy's in jail and my sheet is evidence]. I've had my door set on fire, which looked to my roomates and I that our building was on fire.... Ok. (Omg Mom, are you totally regretting letting me live in Chicago??) Despite these setbacks, I'm thankful for the life I get to live, and feel like I'm clearly doing fine, but my point is, FORGET about trying to create artificial fear. Just look at my last tax return. That was literally scary.

I don't like scary movies, I don't like scary TV shows, and I don't like haunted houses. So why may you ask, was I convinced to sign up for a Haunted Chicago tour? First of all, I was not asked, I was told. "Hey! We got these tickets for you and your boyfriend!! It's going to be so much fun!!" Second, I was sold (down the river) by false pretenses "Aww, it's not scary, it's historical. Seriously, it's all about history." As I was a History major and enjoy learning about Chicago, I was almost convinced. And third, I honestly had nothing else to do, and would have felt like a big weenie if I didn't even try it.

So I hung out after work, stopped by the downtown Whole Foods (got a shot of wine and bite of cheese as a free sample) and grabbed dinner at Portillos. I don't want to join the debate about who has better Italian Beef, but I love theirs, and get my sandwich dipped (fully submerged in au jus) with spicy peppers. I don't know if this is a real tip or not, but when you get anything that spicy, it's more or less impossible to eat it quickly without risking 3rd degree oral burns, so you end up getting full on relatively little. Sandwich+ peppers=$5.54, and also, can you tell how much I like sandwiches? And food?

**Fair warning. The following passage is full of gripes, whining and babiness. Feel free to skip**
Finally the crew rolled in from Evanston, and it was really good to see them again. I was instantly reminded why I wanted to do this, which was to learn a little (nerd alert!) and hang out with friends.

So now, the tour. I don't even know where to begin. I'm just going to refrain from describing the guide specifically, because I've heard if you've got nothing nice to say.... But on a totally unrelated note, is there something that just rubs you wrong about the crass use of the word "sweetie", as in "Sweetie, close that window, the airs on now?" Emh, I just don't like it. Then he sh'shd people who were laughing, after he gave a speech about how we were not to interrupt him while he spoke (and yes Mom, I know the polite thing is not to interrupt. But this was not school, and I would never say something to take the attention away from him, but I would like to make a joke to my boyfriend once in a while). For example, to prepare us for getting ready to accept an invitation from "the beyond" (no joke) he told us that it's essential to suspend the logical side of our brains. I really wanted to tell my boyfriend "That's fairly simple as I've never even used it before," but I was too intimidated.

Whiney babiness aside, the first two stops on the tour were just craptastic luck for someone like me. The first: The Water Tower, which was the center of my campus at Loyola for 4 years, and is a block away from where I work every day now. So instead of thinking about the lovely sights downtown, now I get to remember the image of a guy hanging himself in the middle of the Chicago Fire. Great. Between stops, the tour managed to bastardize my favorite part of the city by informing us of the hundreds of people who drowned to death in the beautiful lake! And sometimes you can see the ghost ships of the dead!! Next stop: Lincoln Park, in the very field I had run a 5K earlier this summer. And guess what??? It used to be a grave yard!!! And maybe not all the graves have been moved!! And to freak you out even more, during the Great Chicago fire, people ran into the open graves for cover, only to be burned alive. Right where you're standing!! And one more thing!!! A rabid, huge ghost dog has been known to run and attack people right here, only to disappear right as it's about to rip out their throats!!!!

And that ladies and gentlemen was my cue to leave. F that S. I am terrified of muggings, aggressive panhandling, my electricity bill, perpetual unemployment, and an absolutely unknown future. I will be miffed before I continue to participate in giving my overly active imagination (not to mention terrifying dreams) more fodder. I bid the group adieu, took the bus home, and locked all the doors.

Conclusion: To thine own self be true! Of course I shouldn't have gone on that tour. There was literally no way I was going to enjoy it. I'm just not sure if there was a socially gracious way to get out of there. My valiant boyfriend stuck with the tour, but did not see a single ghost, or feel an iota of a force field the entire time.

On the way home he picked up some milk ($2.45) to have a cereal dinner. We settled in for the night, content in each other's company, and that of the ghost that now lives in the corner. Just kidding (dear god, please just be a joke...)

Total Spending for the week: Me: $12.76 Boyfriend: 0.00 Household:$16.45

Free show... and SNACKS

I love me some snacks. When I worked at the Y, we got breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, and evening snack, which is pretty much the way to do it. If you left early, you got a travellin' snakc. Without snacks, I'm pretty grumpy (as my boyfriend can attest) and with them I'm in heaven. So if you want some free snacks, sign up to see a screening of "The Event", a new show that's supposed to be like a poor man's LOST.

Here's where to go:


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Another Tuesday

Another Tuesday, another great deal. We just got back from the screening of "Something Better Somewhere Else" at the Landmark Theatre. I can tell you, keeping your eyes peeled and signing up for loyalty programs has really paid off. We got to go to the screening for free (other people paid $10 per person) just because I responded to the Landmark Film Club email. By the way, if you get the chance to see it, I would go for it, as I really enjoyed this movie. It's a collection of 4 unique shorts that follow the theme detailed in the title, and it comes together really well. It was made in Chicago, over the course of 9 years, and pretty much all the actors in it were also in the audience tonight. After the screening there was an audience Q and A with the writer/director and producer, and then a free hosted buffet at Forno Diablo a couple of blocks away. The catch at the food place was that there were no drink specials, and at the movie place that there was a sponsored bar, which is different than a hosted one. While Heineken sponsored the bar at the theatre (where you could get drinks from 6-7:30) you still had to pay $4 a bottle.

In truth, it did balance out. The Heineken money went to the Midwest Film Festival, which put on the event (and shows films made in the Midwest once a month). And at Forno Diablo, the food was delicious, hot, and ingenuitive (brie and sweet potato thin crust pizza=yum) which made paying for a $5 vodka soda a little less painful. I don't think I'd go back, because the regular prices were so high, but it was a treat to get to try such warm, tasty food. The actors from the movie showed up there too, and even though we didn't talk to them, it felt pretty cool just to be in that crowd.

Other costs for today: As we were out of bread and my boyfriend claimed the last leftovers (as they were his...) I grabbed a stuffed spinach pocket and oatmeal raisin cookie at the MCA farmers market, totaling $4. That plus the two Heinekens ($8 total) still got us in under budget, at $18 for the day.

Tomorrow we're going on a Haunted Chicago Ghost tour (I'm already thrilled just thinking about the nightmares it will inspire) so I won't be able to post that night. Not to be a big weenie, but it's much harder maintaining this forum when I..... work! I used to sleep in till 11, write for an hour, and feel super accomplished. Luckily/unluckily, my work will probably end soon and I'll have more time to devote to writing. But for now, I'd like to offer a few tips for those of you still working your budget pretty hard:

1. Check out your local Whole Foods online activities. Depending on what their motive is (especially newly opened ones, or others worried about fresh competition) they can have some really interesting, cheap, and sometimes free activities. I'll link my Chicago peeps to the page I was checking out today:

2. Also, the website "Free Things To Do in Chicago" is often a huge bust (free online calendar? Please, don't waste my time), but today had so many cool events I felt it worthwhile to link you guys to it rather than to just tell you about them:

If you would rather me just tell you about it though, I can do that too:
  1. Free brewery tour and tasting with Half Acre Brewing company. I already got my tickets, and the first available date was in November, so check them out ASAP if you want to go.
  2. Free Drinks and Food at Drink Deck Launch Party tomorrow, September 8: This also looked promising, and I would totally be there if I wasn't going on the Ghost Tour. Don't forget to RSVP.
  3. Free Admission in Chicago Area to some museums on Free Museum Day, September 25. So far, the Shedd Aquarium and Art Institute have not signed up, but the Museum of Contemporary Art and Adler Planetarium have. There are also a bunch of random places that you could go to as well. Totally worth pushing yourself to explore somewhere new.
Also, I just thought of a great LPBNB tip: You can always go to your local Chicago Public Library and ask for a family pass to pretty much any Chicago museum. The Shedd is the hardest to get, followed by the Art Institute, but it's totally doable if you have patience and flexibility. It's worth it to call up different branches to find out what they have before you head over. The passes normally cover a "family" of 4, but who can say what a family is these days.

As we had a 3 day holiday, which involved a holiday from Chicago, and then a celebration of our continued existence on Earth, the LPBNB budget did not start up again until today. So without further ado:

Total Spending for the week: Me: $4.00 Boyfriend: 0.00 Household:$14.00

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mixing it up...

I think my boyfriend and I have always been a little proud of our spontaneity: let's drive across Scotland! Let's paint our living room bright orange, yellow and aqua!! Sometimes it's worked great (Scotland) sometimes it's tanked (living room) but we've always had fun just hanging out together.

So, when we thought we should spontaneously hike 15 miles in the middle of a forest in Wisconsin, it seemed like a great idea. We did that yesterday, and about five hours into the hike (having not stopped once to sit, stuffing a few crackers in our mouths as sustenance) we very much realized that we were lost in the woods, and light was fading, fast. We were in deep, with at least a 1 hour walk just to get to a road, in the middle of nowhere. And yes, panic set in. And yes, 911 was called. And yes, we were told that this forest didn't have any rangers, and "yup, you guys are like, in the middle of nowhere. Hmmm." And oh yeah, this forest is known for it's huge population of bears, who get super active at dusk, which is now......

As I am typing this message on a computer, and not telepathically relaying it from heaven, we obviously got out alive. And then drove the 6 hours back to Chicago as soon as possible, and did not get home until about 1:30 am Monday morning.

Let's just say that today was a relax/recover/thank God you're alive kind of day. I'd love to write about all the cool things we did over the weekend (Wisconsin cheese tasting! apple picking! fire building!) but that's for later. We made it out of the [very bear-filled] woods alive, for which we are thankful, and that's all I want to say about that. See you tomorrow.