Carving Out Some Mom Time – 3 Ideas for a Mom’s Night Out


As part of a sponsored blog campaign for Quaker Oats I was asked to share how I carve out some Mom time, which immediately got me thinking about how I’m overdue for planning a Mom’s Night Out with friends. I firmly believe that Moms need a break every now and then to relax, cut loose, and make time for the things that they enjoy most. Carving out time for myself keeps me sane and more importantly it keeps me happy. My kids know that a “Happy Mom means a Happy Home.” For me, relaxing means reading and connecting with fellow Moms. That’s why I love Mom’s Night Out! (Dads need a night out too, but they can write their own article.)


A night where I don’t have to wash dishes, cut someone’s meat, wash gym clothes, or clean up spills is heaven. A night where I can laugh at my situation, find sympathy, or get advice from fellow Moms is almost better than chocolate. I love my family greatly but the sheer fact that I can go out and talk ABOUT my family with friends makes me a healthier, happier Mom.


The biggest tip I have to carving out time for yourself is to plan your “Mom Moments.” I sound anal when I say this (and trust me, I am not the poster child for the organized Mom) but I write my Mom time activities down in my daily planner so that I don’t schedule anything over them and they’re treated as an important engagement. I’m so used to writing down my work engagements and family schedules which can quickly fill up the calendar. So, I found that I have to also write down “appointments” for when I’m going to work out at the gym, take some time to garden on the weekends, and since I work from home, I even write in my lunch time where I get to read a juicy novel while eating. I definitely plan a Mom’s Night Out every other month. This way I have no excuses for why I didn’t take some time for myself to create happy moments.


To me, happiness comes in moments, which is why I called this site Chocolate Cake Moments. Happiness just can’t be a permanent state. Life throws us too many curve balls. So planning these Mom time activities and even your family fun activities will help to create more happy Chocolate Cake Moments – where we are smiling, relaxed, and savoring life – giving us an overall sense of happiness.


Now that I’m done preaching to the choir about how important it is to take time for yourself, I say it’s time to plan a Mom’s Night Out! Here are 3 of my favorite ideas for a fabulous Mom’s Night Out.


1. Cooking Class – You’re talking, laughing, learning something, and eating great food. Sounds like a perfect night to me. If you don’t already have a favorite place for cooking classes, ask your friends what they recommend or look online. Some Williams Sonoma and Sur La Table stores have cooking classes. You can even have a private chef come to your house and teach the class in a more comfortable setting.


2. Wine Tasting – Do you have a local winery or gourmet wine shop in your area? Call and see if they will give you a tour or a mini wine tasting class. You can even plan your own wine tasting party at home. Have everyone bring their favorite bottle of wine to keep the cost down.



3. Tea Party – A Mom’s Night Out doesn’t have to be a night time activity. If your evening schedules are booked then meet your friends for brunch, lunch or an afternoon tea party. One of my favorite Holiday traditions is a Holiday Tea with friends. I look forward to it every year. But you don’t need to wait until the Holiday Season. Dust off your tea pots and host a Summer Tea Party. Here’s an article with easy ideas to plan your own tea party. Quaker Oats Chocolate Chip Cookies are an easy and tasty snack to put out for your tea party. Made with whole grain Quaker oats, Quaker® Chocolate Chip Cookies have the power of Quaker in a delicious cookie.


For more fun ideas, check out my collection of ideas for Mom’s Night Out on Pinterest.

Moms need a break every now and then to relax, cut loose, and make time for the things that they enjoy most. So, grab your friends, have some fun and rejuvenate your spirit with 3 ideas to plan your next Mom’s Night Out.

Quaker® Chocolate Chip Cookies allow me to be indulgent while still providing the power of Quaker® oats to fuel me for whatever the rest of the day might hold.

Share how you celebrate your me-time and go to Everyday Health for more fun stories.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Quaker®. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Tags: Mom's Night Out

Homemade Wreath – Teacher Appreciation Gift


Looking for a unique and memorable teacher’s gift to make for your school art or preschool teacher? How about a fun wreath to decorate the door or classroom? My daughter and I had fun putting this wreath together for an art themed party we had but the wreath turned out so nice we gave it to one of her teachers as a gift.

You’ll Need:

  • A grapevine wreath
  • Colorful ribbon
  • Twist tie or floral wire
  • Art supplies like crayons, colored pencils, paintbrushes, colorful scissors, and maybe a tiny wooden art easel
  • Glue gun



Most of the decorative art supplies were gathered from our own stash so I really only needed to buy the wreath and ribbon.


To assemble:

    1. Tie and knot the ribbon around the wreath to start off. Then keep wrapping the ribbon all the way around the wreath to make a diagonal pattern. Cut the ribbon and tie the loose end to the original knot where you started.

    2. Create a big bow out of the same ribbon with several ends hanging down. Here’s a great video on how to tie a big, beautiful ribbon bow. Attach it to the wreath with the floral wire. (Or you could use the glue gun to glue it. However you might see the glue if your ribbon is sheer.)

    3. Now start decorating with the art supplies. I was able to attach most of the art supplies by inserting them directly into the twisted grapevines or tucking them under the ribbon. For heavier or flatter items we used the glue gun.

Viola! A pretty wreath to give as a homemade end-of-year appreciation gift for your favorite teacher.


Need some more Teacher’s Gift Ideas? Check out:



What gift are you planning to give your child’s teacher this year?

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Tags: Back to School Tips · Mom's Corner

Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother's Day Photo

Happy Mother’s Day everyone! I wish you all a special day filled with plenty of “Chocolate Cake Moments” where you are smiling, relaxed, indulged, and most of all appreciated.

Go Moms!

For more Mother’s Day fun:

Is a Mother’s Day Card Really a Performance Review?

5 Life Lessons My Mother Taught Me

My Mother’s Day Traditions

For homemade gift ideas the kids could make you or Grandma, check out my Mother’s Day Gift Ideas Board on Pinterest.

While I believe that every day should be Mother’s Day, this is our day so go have some fun with your family.

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Tags: Family Fun Ideas · Mom's Corner

Social Media Marketing Presentation

For all of you small business owners or marketing consultants in the Chicagoland area – there is still room to register for the presentation I’m giving tomorrow for the Itasca Bank & Trust Women’s Business Owner program. The topic is Social Media: Which Platform is Right for Your Business? The program is FREE! Here’s a description of the program and how to register:


Social Media Marketing: Which Platform is Right for Your Business?

Social media marketing is a powerful way to brand yourself as an expert, create leads, and drive traffic to your website or blog. Where do you invest your time to give your business the biggest boost? This seminar will be presented by Sue Kirchner who is both an entrepreneur and a marketing and brand strategy consultant who has helped companies successfully identify their unique brand, expand their business and increase sales for over 20 years. You’ll learn:

  • How to determine which social media platform is right for your business
  • Demographics of the most popular social media platforms
  • Pros and cons of each platform for small business owners
  • Examples of how small business owners are using social media to promote their business
  • Resources to get started

Wednesday, October 10
Networking: 8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.; Program: 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Itasca Bank & Trust Co. Training Center
410 West Irving Park Road, Itasca, IL

There is no charge for the programs, but advance registration is required. Register by return email, or at www.itascabank.com, Women’s Initiative, Quick Registration, or by telephoning 630-773-0350, ext. 450.

If you have any questions, shoot me an email at sue@chocolatecakeclub.com. Hope to see you there!

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Tags: Mom's Corner · Moms Living Out Loud

5 Life Lessons My Mother Taught Me

Fellow Mothers, I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day full of “Chocolate Cake Moments” – hugs, surprises, walks down memory lane, and you didn’t have to wash a gosh darn dish the whole day. I enjoyed my Mother’s Day thoroughly and it got me thinking about my Mom and what she has taught me that I want to pass along to my kids. Other than learning to use a fork or how to tie your shoes, that is. (Of course it would have been better to get this post up on Mother’s Day but hey, I was busy doing Mom-ish things.)

We’ve all had moments where we realize “Oh, my God. I’ve turned into my Mother!” Right? Most of the time when we say this it’s because we’ve done something we SWORE or even PINKY SWORE we’d never, ever, ever do. Yet under stress we fall back on what we know and we emulate Mom. HOWEVER, I wanted to make a list of the great things my Mom taught me, where I proudly say “I’ve turned into my Mother.” So, Happy Belated Mother’s Day Mom and here are 5 life lessons that my Mom gifted me with that I want to pass along to my kids.

1. Life is an adventure. Bring it. When we moved overseas the first time, I don’t think my Mother had ever been on an airplane. She hadn’t been out of Chicago that many times. She certainly didn’t speak Spanish. So when my Dad was offered the chance to move the family to Puerto Rico for his work, Mom swallowed her fears and doubts, quit her job, grabbed our little hands, and we moved. I know her friends and family thought she was crazy. But she kept the family together and met each adventure. We survived hurricanes, tropical “animals” in the house, several robberies, our neighbors “santeria” ceremonies, and sea urchin stings. She learned to speak Spanish, ignore most civilized road rules and drive her Buick onto grass off-ramps (everyone else did), clean a pool, and kill a rat with a squeegee. (Very funny story.) But most importantly we explored and had fun. By surviving and thriving, my Mother taught me to embrace an adventurous spirit.

2. The size of your family is based on love, not DNA. They say you can’t pick your family. My Mother either didn’t get that memo or chose to ignore it. Maybe it’s because we lived overseas for 7 years and had to celebrate Holidays with friends instead of relatives. Maybe it’s because we have a small family. Maybe it’s because my Dad, brother and I didn’t talk enough at the dinner table. Most likely, it’s because my Mother has a big heart. No matter the reason, my parents believed that if you care about someone, make them part of the family. They always open up their home and offer hospitality to people they care about. My parents even rented villas in Tuscany and Provence and invited the people they wanted to have fun with the most, to travel with them. Both my kids and I have favorite “Aunts” that aren’t really aunts. So, I learned that if you surround your family with people you love, you really CAN pick your family.

3. Be the Most Interesting Woman in the World. Never stop learning seems to be my Mother’s mantra. If something interests you, go for it. Learn it, try it, enrich yourself. My mother still goes to school. She takes photography classes, she attends lectures at the University of Texas Third Age program, and she travels the world to meet new people. I’m trying.

4. Don’t be afraid to invite people over. My Mother loves to entertain and the more creative the reason for a party, the better. She taught me not to be afraid to try a new recipe in front of others. If you spent hours decorating your house for Christmas, then show it off. And, that it’s not impossible to feed 50 people in your home. I learned that entertaining doesn’t need to be elaborate. If you are going to make homemade pizza for the family anyway, why not invite the neighbors over to share the fun? If you want to spend time with people you like, then invite them over. Don’t sit around waiting for invitations. Don’t tell your friends “Sorry, I have kids, so I’ll see you again when they are 18.” Or, “Sorry, but my house is such a mess.” No one cares! They just want to spend time with you. Showing other people hospitality and a good time is the greatest gift you can give.

5. Put a bow on it. My Mother is the Queen of elaborate bows. She can’t give a gift to anyone without the outside of the package having just as much impact as the gift itself. Everyone in the family saves her bows and reuses them following year. (Ok, maybe that’s just me.) While my gift wrapping skills are nowhere near hers, the lesson learned is take some extra care, add a little creativity and turn a good thing into a “Wow” thing. Throw some glass beads or ribbon on the dinner table to make it look “fancy.” She taught my daughter to decorate a dinner table when she was 7 years old. Why? The world needs a little extra beauty. It’s another way to show people that you care by going the extra mile.

These may not have been the life lessons that my Mother set out to teach me, but I’m glad she did. Thanks Mom!

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Tags: Mom's Corner

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