Free, Funny Friday

August 10, 2015 at 11:00 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

On the last Friday of the month, my company sent all of us Admins to the company box suite at the United Center to see comedian Kevin Hart. I didn’t really know much about him or his comedy but seeing as how I’d never been to the United Center (ever) and the tickets/food/drinks were free, how could I say no? I couldn’t, just like I couldn’t help myself from doing a little jig when I walked into the box and realized there was tons of snacks and booze for me to enjoy. Obviously I didn’t go crazy since I was around work people but I did have a few drinks and more than a few plates of nachos. And that was before the show even started!

Sweet indeed!

It was really fun to have an after-hours event with some of the women I work with and I’m glad I went. That said, I could’ve done without the warm-up comedy acts. Everyone made me laugh at least once but a lot of the jokes from the warm-up acts just weren’t funny. Some of them were homophobic, racist and misogynistic and it was more than a little awkward to listen to jokes about blow jobs with co-workers who are grandmothers. Just sayin’.

We made it through the openers though and Kevin Hart’s act (while also bordering on the line of comfort a little bit) was a lot funnier. He also incorporated some graphics on a huge screen behind him into his routine which were like bonus points of hilarity. I was having a pretty good time and satisfied with my Friday evening but THEN! THE DESSERT CART APPEARED! That’s right folks, a dessert cart. I had a bowl of ice cream with a huge piece of pie (that I may or may not have smuggled home in my purse…okay I did) and I wound up with a stomachache but it was totally worth it.

The show wrapped up around 10pm and it took me about another 30 minutes on top of that to flag down a taxi but I made it home safe, sound and with pie in my purse. What’s not to love about that?

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Where Have all the Postings Gone?

April 13, 2014 at 8:06 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

So, I’ve been busy.  A little too busy to blog post.  I’d like to say it’s going to get better but it really might not, although I would like a concentrated effort to write a little more often.  And since it’s been such a while since I’ve written, I feel like I should just do a brief recap on what I’ve been up to:

  • Remember how my last post was me bitching about weddings and babies and whatot?  I just spent my entire Sunday traveling to, attending and traveling home from a bridal shower for a girl I’ve never met.
  • The other thing I spent my Sunday on was some time at the gym.  Guys, I accidentally became a gym rat.  I’ve liked going for a while now but a few weeks ago a brand new gym opened a five minute walk from home and I want to hang out there all the time.  And it has a sauna, which allowed me to feel the warmest that I’ve felt in damn near a year.
  • A brand new and amazing grocery store also opened in the same building as my gym and it has also quickly become a new favorite haunt.  I cannot even describe this place to you but I will say there are three separate booze bars plus a sushi bar, oyster bar, BBQ pit and more.  This is in an area where the only option we had before was a crappy CVS that charged $5 for a tiny box of Chips Ahoy.
  • Scott and I came dangerously closes to killing an entire regular-sized box of Chips Ahoy between the two of us last night.  This was after coming home from the new grocery store.  At least I had spent some time at the gym earlier in the day.

    My dirty little secret.

  • I didn’t spend too much time in the gym because yesterday was the most beautiful day Chicago has experienced in a long, sad while.  I think Spring really may be something that will actually happen this year.  All over the city people walked, ran, pushed babies, pulled dogs and sat around on sidewalks eating and drinking.  I almost shed a tear.
  • I did shed a tear when I dropped a bridesmaid dress I get to wear in June off for alterations.  It had three layers that each needed to be hemmed, plus the woman who was helping me told me that whoever made the dress had done it wrong and it was going to cost me a lot to fix – and that is why it looked like my panties were in a bunch both in my crotchal (I think I just made up a new word) area and around my ass every time I zipped up the dress.  Getting quoted nearly half of what I paid for the dress to begin with is what caused the tear.
  • This whole attending/being in weddings thing sure is expensive.
  • Speaking of money, at least I have a job where the people still seem to like me.  They installed a vending machine that gives us free soy milk.  Oh, and I was given a bunch of free tickets to Cubs games last week and when I went the seats were the best that I’ve ever had in Wrigley Field – by far.  Suffice to say, it’s a step up from the place that took away our coffee and confiscated our water cooler.
  • My new job gives me Good Friday off as well, which is good (see what I did there?) because I’m going home this weekend to help my mom celebrate a milestone birthday – I will not be saying which milestone.
  • I will also be celebrating my time as a volunteer at The Field Museum one night this week.  It’s our annual volunteer dinner and the museum will be wining and dining those who donate their time all evening.  I plan on taking full advantage.
  • Sort of like how I took advantage at that bridal shower today and helped myself to a not insignificant amount of spiked punch and a few chocolate covered Oreos to sneak home for desert throughout the week.  I don’t feel too bad because they didn’t have many lunch options for vegetarians and I was hungry.

It appears that I’ve come full circle.  Until next time!

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Freebies!

December 16, 2013 at 2:54 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

I plan on enjoying the perks of working in the Willis Tower as much as I can, while I can.  For instance, today I got a free massage and manicure!

Why yes, I’ll treat myself!

Some fancy schmancy people from Elizabeth Arden have set themselves up in the lobby to provide complimentary services to the staff in the building all week long.  Never one to pass up something free, I took my lunch and enjoyed a nice back rub while listening to some holiday music.  Then I got my nails filed and painted, which is something I VERY rarely have done.  They look so nice, even if it is strange to see nail polish on myself.

Supposedly we all get 20% off any purchases made as well and I’m sure they’re trying to lure everyone in with the freebies in order to sell us tons of make-up, perfume, hair and skin products.  But wait!  If you buy so much you get a super tacky plastic bag for free!  Yeah sorry Ms. Arden but that’s not going to work on me.  I came for the free goods and left with nothing else.  I’m about to be unemployed, can you blame me?

Fingers (gingerly) crossed that I can keep my nails from chipping at least until I get home!

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Fun and Fancy Free

February 13, 2013 at 10:59 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

Who doesn’t love free stuff?  Perhaps Bill Gates or Donald Trump don’t search out great deals but most everyone I know loves a freebie.  And luckily for me, this week has been full of them!

I love free stuff!

I love free stuff!

I guess technically my streak started on Friday and Saturday, since I got those weird free issues of Forbes (thankfully, no more since then).  However since I didn’t really want them, I’m not counting it.  Officially (in my book), things began on Sunday when I went to the annual Volunteer Brunch for the food pantry I help out at.   It was held at an Irish restaurant and the food was delicious, as always.  I enjoyed fruit, pancakes, eggs, potatoes, muffins and some more fruit, all without shelling out dime.  Then on Monday a coworker gave me a Valentine’s Day cookie she made over the weekend.  It looks store bought (as you can see for yourself) and tasted better than most anything I could have purchased.  She also used the healthiest ingredients possible so I feel just a tad less guilty for enjoying it so much!

Tuesday started off with another free treat as the Corner Bakery, Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks have all been handing out free beverages in the lobby of our building this week.  It’s a “sweet treat” also in honor of Valentine’s Day and I’m not complaining.  I would’ve grabbed something Monday morning but my train ran a little late and I didn’t have the time; however, I made up for that yesterday and today.  I nabbed a delicious hot chocolate yesterday morning and it was one of the very last they had left, so it was extra chocolate-y since it had been at the bottom of their thermos.

Last night, Scott and I went to a couples massage class at a local massage therapist’s office to learn some techniques and strategies for good, old-fashioned back rubbing.  It was all PG, I promise.  We, along with a few other couples besides ourselves, picked up some good tips in the hour and a half long class, all for the low low price of nothing.  Again, score!

Today I managed to get a free Starbucks hot tea from the gal in the lobby (though to be completely honest, it was kind of gross).  Then my lovely coworker gave me another heart-shaped cookie, which is definitely not so gross.  All in all, not a bad haul for it being only Wednesday!  Now if only I could somehow manage to get a free envelope containing hundred dollar bills…

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It’s Like 10,000 Scoops and All You Need is a Spoon

August 10, 2011 at 10:23 am (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Mmmmmmoosetracks!

Yesterday, Denali Moose Tracks Ice Cream partnered with the Salvation Army and handed out 10,000 free scoops of ice cream in front of The Tower Formerly Known as Sears, where I spent the day diligently working through one of the crappiest days I’ve had in a while.  This week has seriously been kicking my ass at work so some free ice cream was just what the doctor ordered.  I made my way downstairs and only had to wait in the massive line for about ten minutes until I had ice cream in hand.  I was surprised because I was expecting a tiny little sample size like you’d get at the mall but they had cones and everything and happily doled out two rather large scoops into my eagerly awaiting, greedy palms.  And the ice cream was good.  I asked the woman with the scooper if they were really counting every scoop and she pointed to people holding the little tally clickers like I use at the museum when I’m counting guests, so apparently they were tracking the numbers after all.  I’m not sure whether they completely stopped once they hit 10,000 scoops or if they went until 3pm (their designated quitting time).  It would’ve sucked to be the 10,0001st scoop and given my day yesterday I’m actually surprised that wasn’t me.

I’m not a huge fan of the Salvation Army (not because I disagree with helping the disadvantaged and downtrodden but they have some pretty awful anti-gay policies in place which don’t seem to be going anywhere) but I am a huge fan of free ice cream so I did what I could to help them meet their goal.  Perhaps this is how politicians get corrupted.  Regardless, that bit of sugar, chocolate and peanut butter brightened my day and made me glad, once again, that I work in the heart of the Loop.  And you can bet that I’ll be keeping an eye out for more free snacks throughout the rest of the week my days on this planet!

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Loving LUMA

May 27, 2011 at 10:25 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

Tuesday night, our Northwestern class took a trip to the Loyola University Museum of Art (aka LUMA), which is off Michigan Avenue (and conveniently located next door to the Hershey Store, where I taste tested some products before entering the museum).  One of my favorite aspects of this Museum Studies course is that it exposes me to some of the smaller museums in Chicago that I’m not as aware of and gives me an opportunity to check them out.  That was the case with LUMA, where we were allowed to wander through their exhibits before and after meeting with two of their curators.  They were both kind enough to answer our questions and speak to us about working in such a unique space.  Their insights were informative and entertaining and it’s always interesting to hear about some of the behind-the-scenes aspects of any museum.  LUMA is a part of Loyola University, which is a “Jesuit Catholic university dedicated to knowledge in the service of humanity”.  While LUMA is funded primarily through the university, they are in fact an art museum in and of their own right.  And their collections really are worth your time.

LUMA

While LUMA features various temporary exhibits which rotate fairly often (including the current one on textiles), they have three rooms in their permanent collection as well.  The permanent collections showcase various pieces of religious art from hundreds of years ago.  Dozens of paintings, sculptures, wood and ivory carved pieces and much more adorn the halls and each piece is significant.  There are some items dating as far back as the 14th and 15th centuries and I found just standing in the presence of such art to be extremely meaningful.  The display of these collections is uncluttered and the gallery provides a nice flow from one room to another while still showcasing everything in a tasteful manner.  I looked in one ornate mirror that was hundreds of years old and all I could think about was how many sets of eyes have looked for their reflection in that glass over the last few centuries.  Not going to lie, it gave me goosebumps.

As someone who grew up attending Catholic schools and masses, I felt a bit deeper of a connection to many of these relics than what some of my other classmates might have had.  However, as you may or may not know, I don’t exactly consider myself a model Catholic any longer.  I do attend mass with some regularity (i.e. when I’m home visiting Mom) so I’m not entirely lapsed but affiliating myself with a specific religion isn’t something I worry too much about.  That being said, I’ll admit I felt more of a spiritual presence in the gallery at LUMA than I have in probably the last decade or so in a church.  There was a reverence surrounding these objects that I found humbling and being around items that people have worshiped and prayed over for so much of our history was enough to give me pause.  I actually sort of wished that I had been there on my own so I could have completely immersed myself in the experience.  Since our time there was unfortunately limited, I plan on going back soon to do just that.

At just $6, LUMA’s admission fee is hard to beat (especially given the hefty price tags at many other museums).  Tuesdays are even free every week, though it’s just my luck that that’s the evening I have my weekly class.  I won’t be in class forever though so until I can take advantage of the free days more often, I’ll be happy shell out six bucks to go back for more.

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Thrifty is Nifty

January 19, 2010 at 3:44 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

My long weekend was both fantastically fun and fantastically cheap.  I saw a hilarious comedy show on Friday night (free with my date, who performs there), I went to the Field Museum and visited the mummies and dinosaur bones on Sunday (free with my membership) and I went to the Museum of Science and Industry on Monday (free day there).  On Saturday I had coffee with a lovely friend of mine and since I was so proud of my well-budgeted weekend, I decided to splurge with a visit to a thrift shop.

My mom instilled in me a love of thrift shops at a very young age and as the years have gone by I find my appreciation for these places only deepens.  While I was in high school, I found an old house in my little hometown that had been turned into a huge thrift store and I frequented that place as much as I could.  I found such gems as a Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff CD and a wooden Nintendo trunk with Mario and the Princess adorning its sides.  I never really saw many others in that old house and I was worried about its ability to survive without me when I moved away to college.  Sure enough, on my first visit home during my freshman year I went by and the place had closed down.  I’m sure it would have closed whether or not I was still around but it made me sad nonetheless.

Since then, I’ve had to move on to other thrift stores.  I have also learned that (especially in places like Chicago) a place that is advertised as a thrift store might not actually be a fountain of cheap finds.  Many places like to use words like thrift or consignment in their names and descriptions but in reality they will charge you an arm and a leg for just about any item you find. I took this jaded attitude with me on Saturday but wound up being pleasantly surprised.  The fact that the entire store was having a half off sale all weekend didn’t hurt.

The first floor of this massive store held various pieces of furniture and electronics.  If I was looking for new kitchen table or living room set I would have been in heaven but since I’m not I simply moved on.  Upstairs was all the clothing but I had some sort of cosmic attraction to the bag section and so over there I wandered.  And I was rewarded.  I found an almost-brand new Timberland backpack that will be perfect for any trip three days or less.  I had actually told myself I needed one of these a long time ago and was going to splurge on one for my birthday, but now I can splurge on something else!  I felt so confident with my backpack that I went to the basement of the store, where I knew it would come in handy.  For the basement held the books.

To be honest, this is where I spent most of my time that day.  The entire basement was full of various volumes toppling off of dozens of bookcases and arranged in piles all over the place.  A true bibliophile’s dream.  It was quiet and light classical music wafted from hidden speakers.  Of course, I had to look at just about every shelf before my curiosity was satisfied, and again I was rewarded.  I found the Autobiography of Charles Chaplin, a humor book by Steve Martin, Les Miserables and a book discussing the role of women in today’s media.  I know this might sound awful to some of you out there, but I was (and still am) excited with my finds.

Before leaving I decided to peruse their DVD’s and I found another bargain – this hilarious Margaret Cho comedy special.  I then had a lovely conversation with the guy checking me out about female comedienne’s in general, including the raunchy Sandra Bernhard.  I was feeling pretty good about my purchases, until I saw my total for the day.  Then I felt ecstatic.  I managed to get the heavy duty backpack, DVD and four books for a combined total of TWELVE DOLLARS.  That’s right, I am awesome.

Talk about a glorious day of shopping.  And yes, this constitutes a day of shopping for me.  I was so excited I had to call my mom to share my news, and I think I made her proud.  She taught me well!

Between the comedy show, thrift store, museums and fantastic company I was lucky enough to be surrounded by, my weekend was a smashing success.  Living in this city never gets old!

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Cheap in the City

November 19, 2009 at 6:31 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

One of the perks of living in a big city is the never ending list of events and activities that are out there, just waiting to be experienced.  However, a drawback to living in a big city is that actually doing many of these things would take me well beyond the financial limits I must unfortunately impose on myself.  So I’ve learned to search for the awesomely cheap or fantastically free activities to do around Chicago, because there are so many.

I’ll be the first to admit that I love a good museum.  I think there’s something fascinating about standing in front of an object that has been around for hundreds or even thousands of years and imagining it in its original time and place.  Yes, I’m rather dorky and no, I do not care.  In fact, when my alarm went off this morning I was in the midst of an interesting dream where I was in an unidentified museum and examining a sort of sword and shield set from the Celtic Era.  Perhaps that was the impetus for this post?

My absolute favorite place to go in Chicago is the Field Museum of Natural History.  Being a student of anthropology I think this is only natural, no pun intended.  It would be a dream of mine to actually have a job in this place, and maybe one day I will.  Until then, however, I will enjoy the FREE DAYS they offer to museumphiles (did I just make up a new word?) such as myself.  The Field Museum offers a handful of Free Days every month, though it’s unfortunate (and well planned) that they all fall during the work week.  Luckily, last Wednesday was Veteran’s Day and as such was a paid holiday for me.  (Sidenote: I love having a grown up job that gives paid holidays).  It also happened to be a Free Day at the Field, so I was in anthropological heaven.  I wandered through the exhibits for hours before I went to my favorite part, which I try to save for last.  The mummies.
I don’t know why but I love the mummies.  The Field is home to wrapped and dehydrated men, women, babies, birds, cats and severed appendages.  It’s so freaking cool and I got to see it all for the low, low price of nothing, which of course makes it even better.  Typically a day pass is around $20, so a Free Day is a bargain.  It would be even better if I had a membership because then every day would be a Free Day…I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Santa reads blog posts.

So now that I’ve talked up the Field Museum, I think it’s only fair to mention the other places around that lure in patrons with their Free Day deal.
The Shedd Aquarium is a great place to go at anytime, especially since Beluga whales are so awesome.  Be warned though that the Shedd attracts swarms of strollers, toddlers and stressed out screaming parents.  Obviously this is even worse on the Free Days, so therein lies the problem.  Actually, I was surprised that the Field wasn’t busier when I was there but the last thing I would do about that is complain.  I guess old bones and ancient artifacts aren’t as fascinating to a two year old as a dolphin doing a dance across water.  I can respect that.

The Adler Planetarium also gives out Free Days.  Unfortunately, this is a place I have yet to visit so I don’t have any witty stories or comments to make.  I will say that it appears to be super cool and I’m rather disappointed in myself for not having gone out there.  The same goes for this next place, the Museum of Science and Industry.

Alas, another fine institution in this city that I have not taken advantage of.  They also have Free Days, so we can now reasonably conclude that every major museum in Chicago likes to give it away for nothing.  But only on weekdays, of course.  I actually had planned on going to this one on my day off last week and was even on a bus headed that way.  However, the Museum of Science and Industry is apparently quite cumbersome to get to without a vehicle (which I lack) and I realized that by the time the bus got me there it would be relatively close to closing.  That’s when I hopped off the bus and hoofed it to the Field, but I’ll always wonder about what could have been.  That is, until I get my lazy butt up early on a weekend and try to go there again.

In the end, a good museum (or any other institution ending in -um…the Planetarium, the Aquarium etc) is worth the price you pay to get in.  That’s how they pay their bills and we should support that.  But if you can find a way to get in someplace that’s legal and free, by all means you should take it, run and never look back.  This rule can apply to all sorts of things, including but not limited to: sports games, concerts, movies, plays, bars and weddings.  In this time of economic awfulness, feel free to be cheap and try to remember that some of the best things in life really can be free!

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