Apr 24, 2009

Inventing Lesson #1 Learned

So, after all this time, I was finally able to talk to someone actually experienced in the field of inventing and bringing products to market, and notice I put product*s*, as in plural. You see, each product can require a different approach, each inventor may work better with one approach over another - there isn't only one way to do this is what I have learned over the past 2 years.

Yes, I am still waiting for my provisional patent application, and as of April 7, 2009, it has been 2 years since I embarked upon this journey with my current product. It is the item I had chosen to be my first to take through the invention process and to take to market, as there are others.

I am not comfortable sharing the details of how it is a highly regarded professional could drag this process out to the 2-year mark, or get one up on me as has been shared with me, but I will share that is partly due to blurring the lines between friendship and professionals. Had those lines not been blurred, I would have presented more questions, in an annoying manner even, and pressed harder to get what I am paying for - an actual provisional patent application - at least a year ago.

My advice is to avoid friend referrals. I am not saying to not see the same attorney a relative or friend has dealt with in their endeavors, rather to avoid befriending and working with an attorney who is simply a friend of a friend. I feel it is too easy to blur those lines. Both parties, I dare to predict, can feel the same. I'm sure my attorney has felt she needed to do a little more for me than usual, or rather offer more advice free of charge, than she might others. Yet, I'm just plain ol' inexperienced me, so what do I know about how long this should take?

However, it has been 2 years, and while I may be low on a priority list, it has been too long. I found out today, thanks to the inventor I mention above, Mark Reyland, that it normally takes anywhere from 6 weeks to max 3 months. Needless to say, Monday brings about a whole new me in getting this application in my hands. Thanks Mark!

If you are interested in learning some reliable steps involved in the invention process, visit Mark's blog! Love it!

Apr 20, 2009

Art Projects with Colored O Cereal or Fruit Loops

This project is as easy as pie. Three-year-olds seem to enjoy smashing the colored O's especially. Use either a rolling pin or a large spoon. They also don't mind the sorting so much either. Great for learning to sort by color, color recognition, counting, etc. Use your imagination.

Using some of the recycled applesauce, pudding, or yogurt cups, place the color assortment surrounding the construction paper within easy reach of your toddler. As a side note, my 9-year-old daughter still enjoys getting creative with this project.

Also using some of the aforementioned containers, pour some glue into one and provide your child with tools to drizzle and paint the glue onto the paper. The tools can be anything from a Q-tip to sponge applicators to actual paint brushes. If you feel your child can handle squeezing an actual glue bottle, then let them have at it. Just be forewarned they tend to drizzle in one place.

You are only limited by your imagination. You can place drips of glue throughout, drizzle it on, or paint it on. You can strategically choose your colors and sprinkle them onto your picture or you can randomly sprinkle it on.

You then bend your paper to accumulate the loose crumbs into the center to pour into yet another container for a new wonderful rainbow mix.

Give them a brief demonstration and off they go.


* Colored O Cereal sorted by color, 1/2 to 1 cup of each color.
* Baggies for crushing the cereal within.
* Large cooking spoon or rolling pin for crushing the cereal.
* Glue
* Containers such as empty applesauce, pudding, or yogurt cups to hold the glue and crushed cereal.
* Construction paper.

Apr 13, 2009

An Edible Veggie Floral Bouquet

(Excuse the mess in the background, as I had to assemble and run and then clean up after I returned home. I also didn't cover all skewers with the green onions as I should have and therefore 'painted' them green with my photo editor this time.)(Note: Breadsticks had not yet been inserted.)

This is a smash hit every time I've made one, which has only been twice because it is time consuming and a little challenging when trying to assemble and care for small children at the same time, but it can be done! (Maybe you can, like me, elicit the help of your spouse by putting him in charge of using some wire cutters to snip down the skewers to varying lengths!)

What you will need:

* Basket/container (at least 2" deep)
* Bamboo skewers

* 1 head of cabbage
* 1 bunch of radishes
* 1 yellow bell pepper
* 1 orange bell pepper
* 5 medium carrots
* 3 bunches of green onions
* 2 cups broccoli florets
* 2 cups cauliflower florets
* 1 cucumber, sliced into rounds AFTER you have run fork tines lengthwise to break the skin.
* 1 pint cherry tomatoes
* 1 bunch asparagus spears, blanched, thick enough to withstand insertion of skewers
* 1 box think Italian breadsticks

Optional Extras: 5 stalks celery with tops, 1 small head endive, and 1 bunch chicory.


Radishes into Roses: Cut off both ends of each radish. Try to do so to where a small circle appears on at least one end. Take the radish and using a paring knife cut from the good circle-side up toward the bottom without going all the way through around the edges. Pace into a bowl of water and store in the fridge overnight. The sides will expand outward giving you a more petal-like appearance.

Leaf-shaped bell peppers: Core the peppers and cut them into vertical leaf-shaped slices, triangular shapes work well. Again place in a bowl of water overnight in the fridge.

Carrots into tulips: Insert knife every approximately every 1/4" on an angle with the bottom of the knife, aka the cutting edge, angled toward the small end of the carrot. Place this slanted cut about halfway through the carrot and stop. Rotate the carrot about 1/3 and place another cut the same way, and then repeat once more for a total of 3 cuts. You can now pull the tulip shape off or use the tip of your knife inserted into your cuts to break it free. (You may need two or three tries to get it just so). Again, place into a bowl of cold water overnight.

Prepping the green onions: Cut off the roots of the green onions just above root, sparing most of the bulb/white portion of the onion. Cut the bulb/white portion off approximately 1 to 1-1/2 inches into the green portion of the onion. Using your knife tip, cut vertical slits from the white portion of the onion outward through the end of the green portion. Place in a bowl of cold water in the fridge overnight. The cold water will curl the fringe. The hollow green onion stalks will be used to cover skewers during assembly, so you will need to place one slit in the center of single end of this green potion and also place into ice water overnight.

Broccoli and cauliflower preparation: Prep the broccoli and cauliflower into floret-sized pieces about an inch in diameter, but varying sizes make for a nicer look. Again, place in a bowl of ice water overnight.


* Prepare the cherry tomatoes by washing prior.

* Prepare the asparagus by cutting off the unusable ends. Place them into a pan of boiling water for approximately 7-10 minutes until a cooked yet still-crisp texture is achieved. Immediately place into ice water (really, water with ice cubes this time).

* Prepare the cucumber by raking fork tines across the length of the cucumber deep enough to get through the skin and then slice the cucumber into rounds.


Cut your head of cabbage in half. Place into the bottom of your chosen container with the flat side facing upward to accommodate the skewers. Strategically cut the other half into shapes to fill in any voids in the basket.

You can trim the skewers using wire cutters in advance or as needed to achieve a pleasing arrangement. Shorter on the outside edges and longer in the middle.

Cover the skewers with the green onion sheaths and skewer the florets, peppers, cucumber slices, radishes, carrots, tomatoes, and prepped green onions. Insert unsheathed skewers into asparagus spears and breadsticks (although the breadsticks can also just be placed into the arrangement and stand well on their own until the arrangement is thinned by guests).

Arrange your bouquet balancing colors and shapes as necessary. You can serve only veggies in the arrangement or also place extra servings on a serving tray/platter around your basket.

Apr 12, 2009

Easter Goodie Don't


Like most full-time working mothers who only get 1 weekend a month kid-free to sneak in secret shopping trips, I made a rush trip at only 1 store to gather my Easter basket supplies. I can't tell you who made these cookies or what brand they were, as I tore off the tags for obvious reasons, and while I could tell you where I bought them, I won't, in case someone doesn't agree with my opinion. They were purchased in an Easter section of a large chain store.

If you see these cookies in the future, run. Don't waste your money. They are egg-shaped, iced sugar cookies. They smelled like vomit, and they tasted like vomit. It took me 2 hours to get the taste out of my mouth, and I only took a nibble. I was grateful I didn't toss any cookies of my own. The kids also only took a bite that they each quickly spat out.

Apr 1, 2009

Kid Crafted Easter Egg Baskets

With the help of an adult that is.

We made these baskets 4 years ago. They've held up pretty well. We store them in paper ream boxes, 1 per box.

While we all treasure them now that they are done......it wasn't exactly an ideal project for kids of 5 and 7....at least until we got past pasting the plaster strips onto the balloons. I would now recommend that the parents of younger children apply the plaster strips alone when the children are in bed, allow to dry, and introduce this project to the kids the following day at the paint and decorate stage.

It was very messy. My daughter was about 5 years old and my son about 7. We had a balloon pop during application of the plaster strips.....plaster flew everywhere, but she also got upset enough to cry. She takes it as a personal insult almost if things don't go just so or as planned (we're always working on this.) My son thought it was hilarious. The kids could not do this stage alone, and even though they are 11 and 9 today, I still wouldn't be too far away.

The up sides are the pride they feel each year they see their basket, the baskets hold a ton of "stuff," and are more accommodating to holding toys and larger chocolate bunnies.

If you're up for to the challenge, then go for it. Here is what you will need with instructions:

*2-3 Pkgs. of Plaster Gauze Strips (like these)

*A balloon of an appropriate size (we chose extra-large from a party supply store) that will resemble an egg shape when inflated.

*Craft paints and decorative accessories of any kind. Get creative!

*A place to hang your balloon for drying purposes. String and hangers, nail/hook in garage, etc.

*A razor blade/wallpaper cutter (similar to this)

*Masking tape to cover the balloon exit hole.


Inflate your balloon to the size you desire. Follow package instructions on plaster gauze strip packaging to prepare the strips appropriately. Place the strips in one direction completely covering the balloon, leaving a small circle at the narrow end allowing the tail of the balloon (where tied) to hang out so you can deflate the balloon and remove it later. Then go back and place more strips in the opposite direction for reinforcement purposes. Smooth out with your hands as necessary to achieve the desired smoothness. Allow to dry according to package instructions or when you feel the plaster has properly cured. (Wait until after the children have decorated their Easter Egg Baskets before popping the balloon. This just allows for more resistance against the weight of their decorating activities. )Remember! Once the children are near complete with embellishing their creations, cover the small opening where the tail of the balloon was hanging out with some scotch tape and have the children paint over this before putting your supplies away.

Once dry, pop the balloon within and remove through the small opening you have left. You can wait until after the following step to remove it, but you will want to pop it first. Now you can cut around the egg in a jagged fashion with the razor blade mimicking a cracked egg pattern. Fill with Easter grass and goodies. Enjoy!