Featured in New eBook for Mom Entrepreneurs


Hurray! I was thrilled to find out that I have been featured in Start Your Own Mom Business!, a new eBook by StartupNation. It was definitely a “Chocolate Cake Moment” for me, where I couldn’t stop smiling and felt the need to celebrate with some Sea Salt Caramels (my new favorite sweet).

I received an advance copy for participating and I think it’s a great resource for moms interested in starting and running a successful business. I would have loved to have access to information like this when I was starting up 5 years ago. I could have avoided oh so many mistakes. While we all learn from mistakes, you can only lose so much time or money before the mistakes start to destroy your business or your passion for being an entrepreneur. This book will definitely help Moms who are noodling starting their own business to make some decisions on whether to go for it.

In addition to success tips specific to mom business owners like managing work-life balance, building a support group, or the perils of working from home, the eBook includes advice and insights from me and 19 other winners of StartupNation’s annual Leading Moms in Business Competition, an annual ranking of the top 200 moms in business in America. In my profile (on page 44 in case you buy the book and want to jump right to my section), I give advice on not being afraid to ask for help and how important it is to validate your business idea before jumping into it wholeheartedly. It doesn’t cost a lot of money to do!

The eBook is available for purchase and download from the StartupNation website here. I don’t get any compensation for promoting the book, other than a nice feeling of validation for my business and ideas. I just think it is a good resource that Moms considering pursuing an entrepreneurial dream should know about.

The first section of Start Your Own Mom Business! focuses on the main keys to success for the mom entrepreneur, highlighting the critical areas of time management, delegation, outsourcing and work-life balance.

The second section of the eBook profiles 20 Leading Moms in Business winners, providing the reader with insights into business management strategies, life management skills and success secrets. There is a profile of each company so Moms can learn more and evaluate the many different kinds of business models.

I’m thrilled to be included in the book and I want to thank everyone who voted for and last year and then again this year in’s Leading Moms in Business Contest. There are some awesome Mom Entrepreneurs in the contest that heck, I would love to learn more from.

The eBook is available for purchase and download from the StartupNation website here.

If any of you are Mom Entrepreneurs already or thinking about taking the plunge, what books or resources are invaluable to you?

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Tags: Cool Finds · Moms Living Out Loud

Awesome Kids Cooking Classes!

kids cook cooking session

We were visiting my parents in Austin, TX last week and we stopped in to visit a wonderful kids cooking shop called Batter Up Kids Cooking Shop. I am passionate about how cooking with your kids is not only essential for teaching them a life skill but it is one of the best ways I know to share a “Chocolate Cake Moment” together, bonding as a family.

The owner of the shop is Barbara Beery, successful author of several of our favorite kids cooking books like the Spa Princess Cookbook, Pink Princess Tea Parties cookbook, and Fairies Cookbook.
Spa Princess Kids Cookbook

Barbara and her daughter were so gracious when my daughter, Mom and I cruised into the shop. (Three generations of food lovers, oh boy!) You can certainly buy kids cooking kits in the store and they host kids cooking parties and classes, but more importantly you can just walk in and make something. The recipes change every week. My daughter was thrilled. She got to choose to make either a Flowerpot Ice Cream or Groovy Grasshopper Vegetable Dip. (I loved that Barbara had a healthy alternative, even if my daughter didn’t choose it.)

christy cook apron

Before she got down to business making her ice cream treat, my daughter got to decorate a cooking apron with markers and stickers. Barbara mentioned that several kids save their aprons and bring them back to the store to add new decorations as they continue to take classes.

ice cream flower pot

Check out some of Barbara’s fun recipes at her blog site.

If you are in the Austin area and looking for something fun to do with your kids or grandkids, the Batter Up Kids Cooking Shop is a delightful way to have some fun.

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Tags: Cooking with the Kids · Cool Finds · Family Fun Ideas · Fun with Grandma & Grandpa

How to Buy the Perfect Kids Backpack

toddler backpack spunky and supply bag

It’s getting to be that time of year, when our kids are done jumping into pools and beginning to jump into books. That means one thing – school supplies and backpacks. There are some questions that you need to ask yourself and your child before picking that backpack for school or even preschool.

Your child will go through three backpack size phases in their school years – preschool, elementary school, and middle/high school. While you may have more than one backpack during those times, the sizes will grow as your child grows. (I know, that’s obvious.)

Four Peas Rocker Backpack
Preschool or Daycare: A preschool or toddler backpack should be small and simple, just big enough to carry those toddler essentials like a change of clothes, snack, BFF blankie, or a stuffed animal. Generally, a toddler backpack will fit a child ages 2 – 5 years old. So ask yourself, what do they need to bring every day and will this backpack hold it? Are you going to carry it or are they? If they are going to carry their own backpack to preschool then it needs to be smaller and very lightweight. You don’t want them looking like a deformed turtle as they walk down the driveway. Or, if you think you might use the bag while traveling, look for a Pull Along Backpack, one with a handle to make it easier for your child to pull.

frog stuffed backpack

How big do you need it?
Sports Quilted Toddler Backpack
The younger the toddler the harder it may be for them to work a zipper so you might want one with just a flap like this Quilted Toddler Backpack, which is machine washable as well. Bonus! But if zippers are no problem and you want something a little more sturdy, these Four Peas Toddler Backpacks are ideal.

Four Peas School Backpacks
Elementary School: They say Niagara Falls is the 8th wonder of the world but I would argue that it’s my son’s backpack after a day at school. We’re talking a few books, folders, loose papers, a few Lego guys to play with on the bus, and of course pieces of priceless art like life cycles of a butterfly, macaroni necklaces and popsicle stick art. (I know these are going to be worth something on eBay one day.)

So, your child’s backpack needs to hold all that and a bag of chips. If your child takes lunch to school then you also need to fit a lunch bag and maybe a water bottle. Now, here’s the kicker. Does your child go directly to an afterschool activity or care location where they would need to add in sports gear, additional books, or toys? Most school size backpacks are sufficient for an elementary school child’s needs but if you are using the backpack for extra activities or to travel with on the weekends, go for the largest size you can find.

Do you want to embroider their name on the bag? If so, look for a design that has an open space on the front so you can add the name.

Middle or High School: For you, it’s all about durability because they carry some pretty heavy books. Look for durable material and a large size bag. For them, it’s all about the ‘tude. This bag will hold more than just books, it will hold a statement. Don’t be surprised to find their bag covered in hanging doodads or covered with pins and patches. Your child will want to express him or herself so let them go for it.

Four Peas Skater Messenger Bag
There are a variety of styles for older kids; standard backpacks or messenger bags are popular, so have fun with your tween or teen picking out what they feel comfortable carrying- because now they’re not just carrying a bag, but their heart on their sleeve, I mean back.

If you want the backpack to last a few years, look for tough material. Not only to take abuse but to stand up to a hazmat-type cleaning. Make sure it is machine washable or easily surface cleaned. With my kids, we need to empty the bag and wash it every 2 months. They get skanky with food, left over glue, and various other substances that I can’t even identify! Remember, you only want one living thing attached to your kids backpack – your kid.

Last Notes about Design
When your kids are younger, backpacks make a great gift. You or the gift giver can choose a cute, hip, or even plain design and your child will be thrilled. Once your kids gets ready for school, just try and get them to like the same design you do. I dare you! Avoid the arguments and let them pick.

Also, when your kids are younger they are going to gravitate towards the character designed backpacks – Spiderman, Dora, SpongeBob, Princesses, etc. However, these “fad” backpacks will probably only last you one year because your child will move on from that character quickly. “Oh Mom, Dora is so yesterday.” So, if you are going to buy a character backpack, don’t obsess over the quality and durability factors. And don’t pay too much for it because most likely it will go in the donation pile and be going to school with some other child.

Hope these tips helped you. The Chocolate Cake Club has a ton of Kids School Backpacks, Messenger Bags, and Toddler Backpacks if you are looking for ideas and inspiration.

PSST! This weekend only, we are offering 20% off almost all of our popular Back-to-School products like our school and toddler backpacks, messenger bags, lunch boxes, water bottles, alarm clocks, school paper organizers, and even toddler nap mats. Hurry, quantities are limited and sale ends Sunday, August 1st.

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Tags: Back to School Tips · Cool Finds · Parenting Tips

Work From Home Woman’s Interview with Sue Kirchner

Sue Kirchner, President

Thank you to Holly Hanna at The Work From Home Woman site for interviewing me and featuring the Chocolate Cake Club on her site. Holly has some wonderful information on running a business from home.

You can read the interview with me here.

Chocolate Cake Club Back to School Giveaway
Here’s another reason to go check out her site – we are sponsoring a Back to School Giveaway where you can win some of the Chocolate Cake Club’s great Back to School Gear. You can enter here but hurry, the contest ends tomorrow at noon. Stay tuned for our 3rd annual Motherlode Back to School Contest which we are going to launch on Thursday. Check back on Thursday for details on how to enter.

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Tags: Back to School Tips · Contests · Cool Finds · Moms Living Out Loud

How to Buy the Perfect Kids Lunch Box

What’s your child’s favorite time at school? For my kids, it’s lunch. But sending your kids to school or day care with a packed lunch can be a hassle. You need to make sure you buy a lunch box or bag that your child loves carrying to show off his or her personal style, but is completely functional for Mom.

There are all kinds of different sizes, shapes, materials, and designs for lunch bags. Some zipper, some fold over the top. Designs can be funky or just plain functional. But which to choose? Hint: It’s all about Size!

Here are 3 things to think about when picking your child’s lunch bag – size, ease of cleaning, and safety.

groovy peace lunch bag

Size Does Matter

Snack vs. Lunch. My son usually eats a hot lunch from school. However, he does take a snack everyday and sometimes he wants a snack that needs to be kept cold, like a yogurt drink, vegetable dip, or certain fruits that taste better cold. So, if you are only packing a snack, then get the smallest bag you can find.

slam dunk lunch bag

What’s in the Bag?
Figure out what your child will be taking for lunch every day. Pack a typical lunch in your head and guesstimate the space you need. Do they need a drink or will they buy milk at school? If they are bringing a drink, are they bringing a water bottle? If so, will it fit inside the lunch bag to stay cool? How about a juice pack? How will you keep everything cold? Think about what you want to throw in the bag and then you can determine the right size. You don’t want a lunch bag so big that your child needs wheels to drag it to school. But at the same time, you want your child’s lunch all together in one bag and not with separate pieces floating around the backpack getting smashed.

Keeping it Cool!
Does your child want to keep lunch items cold or hot? Then the lunch bag needs to be insulated and it needs a cold source. Some lunch bags come with a chill pack, but most don’t. If not, you can buy one separately but make sure it fits in the lunch bag. Some chill packs are huge. It only needs to keep the lunch cold for a few hours so don’t overdo it.

If you don’t want to buy a separate chill pack, here are some tips for keeping lunch cool. Throw some ice cubes in a plastic baggie. Ask your child to empty the melted water and bring the bag back so you can reuse it the next day. (My kids drink it.) Or, if you have a smaller lunch bag and don’t have the room for extras, save space by freezing the water bottle or juice pack then use it as the chill pack to keep the food cold. If your child isn’t concerned about temperature, then ignore all of this.

If your child likes hot soup then make sure you get a thermos. If you want it to fit in the lunch bag, take the thermos with you when you shop for the lunch bag or measure it.

Waste Free Lunches?
We all want to do our part for protecting the environment and waste free lunches are a great way to conserve. Many schools are encouraging kids to bring waste free lunches. Our kids earn points every time they bring a waste free lunch.

I don’t want to keep adding to the landfill problem with plastic baggies so we try to use our clean butter tubs, and other small plastic containers that we can wash and reuse. However, plastic containers take up space in a lunch bag so make sure you have a large enough bag to hold them all. There are some great waste free lunch containers out there like this one from Kids Konserve.

Robot lunch box

We all care about our kids’ health and safety. If you are buying a plastic or vinyl lunch bag, just make sure it is lead, phthalate, and PVC free. If your child wants to keep food hot or cold, it needs to be insulated. But definitely make sure to ask if the bag meets all child safety requirements, if it is not labeled as such. Most bags are these days, but just double check the label. We highly suggest aluminum or stainless steel water bottles as an alternative to plastic.

lunch bag designs

OK, now you can think about design. There are so many cool designs on the market from cute to hip to uber trendy. Beyond the graphics, see which type of bag is easiest for your child to open. For a smaller child, a “fold over the top” Velcro closure may be easier than a zipper. Just like with backpacks, kids will express themselves with their lunch bag. Once your safety and size concerns have been met, Mom, let your child choose the design they love.

folkcolor busquets lunch bag

Read More …
Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids

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Tags: Back to School Tips · Cool Finds · Parenting Tips

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