Saturday, July 26, 2014

Cheesecake Factory Makes Lunch a Dining Experience

I received a complimentary lunch at The Cheesecake Factory through the travel campaign with New Creative Media. All opinions expressed are 100% my own and my family’s. Any additional expenses incurred were my own.  

Dining out for me usually goes something like this. Sit down, glance at menu, make quick decision about all courses, dole out crayons, order, dole out IPad, pray that the food comes soon, dole out IPhone, thank god that the food arrived, inhale meal. It's not an experience but not necessarily the kind I enjoy talking about.

I recently dined at The Cheesecake Factory at The Mall at Short Hills for a Girls Lunch with a friend, it was my first time eating at Cheesecake Factory without kids. Even though I had ample time to read the menu, (unlike when I visit with my son and have already picked out my meal and dessert before the waitress brings the water) I still decided to go with an old favorite the roasted pear and blue cheese flat bread off of the skinnylicious menu.

The skinnylicious menu is The Cheesecake Factory's select menu of lower calorie options. The menu offers a variety of flat breads, salads, small plates and specialty options that even include burgers all of which are lower in calories and will leave room for you to enjoy the main event which in my opinion is the cheesecake.

Every time I got to the Cheesecake Factory I tend to get the same cheesecake, The Adam's Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple. I love any dessert that involves peanut butter and chocolate, and it is so good that I hate to miss a chance to enjoy it. But I really felt the need to switch things up and couldn't decide between the White Chocolate Caramel Macadamian Nut Cheesecake and the Dulce De Leche Caramel Cheesecake. I asked our server, Michael Ann, which she thought was best and she recommended the Dulce De Leche which I have to agree was excellent. I've been on a caramel kick lately and this definitely satisfied my sweet tooth.

As someone who loves food the Cheesecake Factory makes lunch a dining experience with a wide range of options and of course all that decadent Cheesecake. They never disappoint me and I'm always eager to go back, though I don't think my pants could handle it. My favorite part of this dining experience was being able to enjoy the meal without having to cut up food or dole out distractions for my 3 year old. I actually remember what the flat bread tasted like and how smooth and delicious the cheesecake was. Lunch was not a blur for once!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Days of Summer - Week 4 and 5

Days of Summer 

The last 2 weeks is a bit of a blur, but they were filled with so many fun and fabulous things, more than I can fit into one post. I'm currently working on posts about all that was Sweet Suite / Blogger Bash and make sure to visit my posts about my travels with Wyndham Weekends

Friday July 11, 2014

I wasn't feeling so great I had a pinched nerve in my neck and was generally just not feeling well. My MIL kindly picked Jack up for a few hours so that I would get some rest and I took a nap for the first time in who knows how long. Then I tried on a bunch of dresses for Blogger Bash. I love this one, not sure why I didn't wear it. 

Saturday July 12, 2014

We had a rough morning which included a very abbreviated trip to the beach. I put Jack down for a nap and made some pina coladas for our friends who came over in the afternoon to enjoy the pool. Hanging with our friends and seeing the kids play and probably the pina coladas helped my mood immensely and turned a lousy day into a good one. 

Sunday July 13, 2014

Can you see the tacky Taj Mahal in the background.

We started off my Birthday week with a trip to Margaritaville in Atlantic City with friends. They have a new bar on the beach that has games and a great atmosphere, though John said he still couldn't get past the idea that he was in AC and not say, Aruba or Key West. 

Monday July 14, 2014

I had a ton of things to do to get ready for Blogger Bash and this was my last day to do it, so the day is kind of a blur. But Jack took a nice nap, though I'm not sure I managed to get anything done because I still had way too much to do by Wednesday night.  

Here he is showing off his water ice tongue. 

Tuesday July 15, 2014

I came into work and was surprised with some pre-birthday cupcakes from my co-worker. And seriously the card was the sweetest. These weren't the only cupcakes of the day as I came home and was greeted with even more cupcakes from Jack and John. So I enjoyed my cupcakes and watched some Orange is the New Black (I think I'm the only one not done season 2) and continued to ignore packing for Blogger Bash. 

Wednesday July 16, 2014

Birthday! Actually it was a really muted celebration. My SUP class got canceled. I had a really unsuccessful shopping trip with my Mom. We had a good dinner and then I went home and ate more cupcakes, watched more Orange is the New Black and continued to mostly ignore packing for Blogger Bash. Though I did do a little bit of packing. 
Super blurry but this guy was helping me pack

Thursday July 17, 2014

It was go time. Jenn and I drove north to meet up with Karen. We got pulled over and lost in Brooklyn.  But we made it to our hotel and met up with Jess, Caitlin met us to head over to Sweet Suite where we had to take a selfie, while we waited in line. Sweet Suite which was such an amazing event and rightfully deserves it's own post. 

Friday July 18, 2014

Blogger Bash ! Check back Monday for a recap but I think this picture speaks for itself. 

Saturday July 19, 2014

Jen and I headed straight from Blogger Bash to the Wyndham in Florham Park, NJ for a girls weekend away. We ate uninterrupted meals and enjoyed a bit of pampering at The Short Hills Mall and I completely fell in love with Lush, where the cosmetics and bath products are all handmade. I love this picture of me getting my hands massaged cause seriously those suckers were sore from all the tweeting and facebooking and hashtagging. 

Sunday July 20, 2014

Home. God I missed this kid. It was so great to go home and I really felt relaxed. I got home mid-afternoon and we spent the rest of the day riding bikes and playing. I came home to a clean house and John made dinner. I loved being back where I belonged. 

Monday July 21, 2014

All weekend I kept thinking I can just hang home on Monday and get some work done. But then I got home and remembered I had a Mom's Club play date that I was hosting and Jack was starting swimming lessons. In my frazzled state I forgot towels, sunscreen and chairs you know pretty much everything I needed for the pool and beach. But it all worked out and we sat on the beach for as long as possible. 

Tuesday July 22, 2014

We hit the library in the am and then did the pool in the afternoon. I think Jack was still tired from the weekend because it was like pulling teeth to get him to go to the farm stand to buy fruit, an activity he usually enjoys. I got my first Jersey Fresh tomatoes from my CSA, and my god there is nothing like a Jersey tomato.

Wednesday July 23, 2014

Back to work and I so did not want to go. After work I continued trying to wade through all the business cards and contact PR sheets that I brought home. Seriously, so much stuff to process.

Thursday July 24, 2014

Jack had gym class in the morning and it was my first time taking him this session. I'm always amazed by the way parents act at these things. There are always parents who are cheering the kids on and then others that are yelling at the kids. It's a preschool gym class just sit back and watch. Then we went to Trader Joe's cause I love driving an hour each way to food shop. But the dark chocolate, peanut butter, salted caramel truffles were worth it. We dropped dinner off to our friends, who had had a rough couple of days. I love this picture of our little meals on wheels.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Making Time for Me at The Mall at Short Hills

I received a complimentary gift bag while shopping at The Mall at Short Hills as part of a Travel Campaign with New Creative Media. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. All purchases and additional expenses incurred were my own. 

I can't remember the last time I browsed a mall without a stroller or a hand to hold or the sound of "no more stores Mommy". Or the last time I have rushed through a store because I had to grab one thing before the 2  1/2 hour window that is preschool passed. Or the last time I didn't think "let's go to Target so I can buy goat cheese and a new dress at the same time.

I love shopping, the browsing, the buying the experience of finding new treasures. And yet those experiences above are not shopping, they aren't enjoyable, mostly they are just necessary and most definitely not fun.

That's why my experience at The Mall at Short Hills was such a wonderful one. Not only did I have an afternoon of kid free, shopping with a friend, I also got to experience a lot of stores that my local mall does not have. Many of the stores at The Mall at Short Hills are more of an upscale shopping experience, than just browsing racks of products or clothes.

The Mall at Short Hills also offers the Passport to Style, which can be picked up at Guest Services. Just present your Passport to Style at any participating store to receive a variety of complimentary experiences from discounts on products to complimentary hand massages and facials.

On our trip we visited L'Occitane and after signing up for their Passport to Provence program we were treated to our choice of hand massages or facials. Being that we are both writers and work on computers for a living we both choose the hand massages. The massage was a fun relaxing experience and not something I'm accustomed to while shopping.

We had been told that we had to experience Lush, so we made that our way to Lush, a store that screams come in and play with it's colorful bath products and cheerful decor. With products names like "Honey I Washed the Kids" and "Cupcake" face masks, how could I go wrong?

After telling the sales clerk that we had not been to Lush before we were given a tour of the store and had all the products explained to us. We were able to touch and feel all of the bath and body products that are handmade with natural ingredients. Some of the products are so fresh they need to be refrigerated. I treated myself to some bath bombs and used one of them my first night home. We had so much fun playing in Lush and the products definitely lived up to my fun in store experience. I think I may have a new obsession.

Next we hit up Teavana. I have been to Teavana before and every time I go I get home and tell John how cool it is and then he asks what I got and I say nothing. To me Teavana is a treat and while it's not overly expensive, I can buy tea for much less at the grocery store. But grocery store tea is not Teavana. The sales clerk in the store let us smell a wide variety of teas and explained to my friend who was a Teavana newbie how Teavana works. I treated myself to a Chai blend of tea and was immediately happy that I did.

Shopping at The Short Hills Mall was a fun way to spend a girls day out. The shopping was higher end but accessible. Between Teavana and Lush I spent about $50 and was so happy with my small splurges. The sales people we encountered in the stores we visited were nice and welcoming. For me the ultimate highlight was being able to take some time and shop with a friend. The Short Hills Mall is a great place for moms to treat themselves to some much needed "me" time.