A friend of mine, Genie, shared her de-stress day routine one day last fall. She’d recommended a color by number sticker book. I was intrigued and started to search for something like that. I found Hinkler’s Kaleidoscope Sticker Mosaics : Flora & Fauna.
Sticker by Number is just like color by number….sort of. The designs are blocked into sections and numbered, and there is a mix of difficulty levels.
The stickers are labeled in their section at the back of the book. And the goal is to use the stickers to fill the blank spots.
There is a bit of a learning curve, while you can apply the stickers with your fingers, it’s not really ideal. Genie let me know that a good set of offset tweezers are my friend.
I found myself really enjoying working on this book. My only main complaint is that the adhesive on the stickers isn’t really strong, so I was having to deal with stickers that peel up.
My pictures came out so pretty!
Disability Notes: This is really a great coloring book if you have a wish to color on a low spoon/low energy day. The mix of simple/intermediate/ complex designs means that people with visual and mild motor control issues should be able to enjoy it. I found it to be great for a brain fog day when making decisions is difficult. It could also be handy to have in a hospital or go-bag.
Where to buy: Kaleidoscope Sticker Mosaics Flora & Fauna is currently out of stock at my local Barnes & Noble. It can still be found at Barnes & Noble, and online at Amazon, though the prices vary wildly.
Just before Christmas I received a package from Amazon. Inside was this lovely set of watercolor brush pens. I’d been following Hoolanda on Facebook, and was more than mildly interested in trying a new coloring medium. The package had no note, so I’m working under the assumption that it came from Hoolanda itself.
I’d never tried watercolor pens before, but curiosity is one of my personality quirks/flaws. At first blush, I found the 20 colors in this set to be a nice mix of light and dark shades. The two included water pens confused me until I researched tutorials online.
The nylon brush tips make for smooth color saturation; allowing fine, medium, and bold strokes. I experimented with different papers and styles of coloring books.
I learned that the flexible brush tips could fit into the tiniest, narrow places, and that multiple applications would layer color, adding depth and shadow. The only downsides I found were the water based ink would bleed if it got wet after drying, and that you can’t let the brush pens sit in direct Virginia sunshine. When the pens get over warm the water condenses out of the ink.
Disability Notes: I really can’t think of any major issues with these brush pens. The price is affordable, Amazon delivers, and the caps both fit on the back end of the markers and have a Cap Nub. Much like all markers, they will bleed if left uncapped.
Where to buy: You can buy Hoolanda 20 Watercolor Brush Pens at their website on Amazon. The set I received retails for $15.99 usd.
There are a dozen popular artists whose artwork is used for puzzles. I’m fond of Nene Thomas and Chris Ortega, not so much Thomas Kinkaid. Of the more recent artists, I’ve been avoiding Aimee Stewart. It isn’t that I don’t like her style, rather, I found myself intimidated. Aimee’s art is very reminiscent of Lisa Frank, all bright colors and happiness.
While at Toy Fair, I spoke at length with one of Buffalo’s representative about their new puzzle lines and some of the art styles. When I mentioned how popular Aimee Stewart’s puzzles seemed amongst my puzzling groups, but that I was not sure I could handle the visual busyness; it was suggested I try the 300 Large Pieces version. I chose the Sweet Shop, as it reminds me of the old-fashioned candy store I went to as a girl in Cape Cod.
The 300 Large Pieces are designed to be 67% larger than Buffalo’s normal puzzle pieces. I found them to be wonderful for gripping on a bad hand day, and they still had the Perfect Snap™!
My fear of being overwhelmed by the bright colors and busy design proved to be moot. Instead, the cheerful, bright colors made assembly a joy! This puzzle was moderately challenging, but not so much as to need a break. With the tight fit between pieces, it is easy to move whole sections of pieces.
I might be hooked on these, not that I NEED more puzzles. One of the joys of being a reviewer is also the bane of my productivity. There are always new products to try, and very little time to go back and enjoy something I’ve already done. Then again, I might have to make sure an Aimee Stewart is set aside for the 2020 World Puzzle Days.
Company: Buffalo Games
Title: Sweet Shop
Artist: Aimee Stewart
Year released: 2016
Pieces: 300 Large
Cut-Style: Steel-cut Die
Finished size: 21.25 x 15 inches
Bonus poster: Yes
Made in USA
Box: Thin cardboard, sturdy, 8 x 8 x 1.5 inches
Board: Medium weight chipboard, sturdy pieces
Cut: Ribbon Cut
Image Quality: Excellent
Puzzle Dust: Minimal
Piece shapes: Standard 2-knob and some star-shaped pieces
Piece Fit: Excellent
Disability Notes: As I noted, the large pieces of this puzzle are easy to handle, which is great for those of us with arthritis or other hand mobility issues. I know that several of my readers have puzzlers in the younger generations of their families, and think this would make a great family project.
Where to buy:Sweet Shop is available on the Buffalo Games website for $10.95 USD. Buffalo Games also has displays at local Walmarts and Targets, but their selections will vary.
I don’t know about you folks, but I’ve officially had my fill of winter. Gray days and cold weather, nasty colds and aching bones; I’m sick of the lot! But! The first day of Spring is coming soon, and one coloring book has been my mainstay through this whole rotten winter.
Last October, Johanna Basford put out a new coloring book. I hadn’t tried any of her coloring books before, having been intimidated by the level of detail in both Secret Garden and Lost Ocean. However, I can’t grow as a colorist if I don’t test my limits, and Johanna’s Colouring Gallery on her website is a safe, welcoming haven for all colorists of all skill levels. I have to say, I love this woman. Johanna describes herself as an “Inky Evangelist” and her tutorials for coloring are upbeat and encouraging. So I reached out to Johanna and her publisher in the US, Penguin Random House for a copy for the blog.
World of Flowers is a good deal larger than the coloring books I usually use. It has 40 pages of double-sided images, giving you 80 pages of coloring adventures to have. The pages are 10 inches by 10 inches on a fantastic medium heavyweight paper. The pages are not perforated for removal, this style of coloring book is meant to be kept whole. Johanna’s books include a color palette test page, so that you can not only see how your pencils/pens/markers look, you can also check for bleed through. This saved my bacon! My sharpies are a no-go in this book, but colored pencils, Hoolanda watercolor brush pens, fineliner markers, and Pilot Frixion markers all performed well.
I think my favorite thing about this book is the diversity of images. Johanna dedicated World of Flowers to her grandmother, an avid gardener. There is a multitude of plants, lots of tiny insects, a full gardening shed interior, a work truck and even a koi pond! Each page is different, and I found my inky journey being not sure where to go next!
Disability Notes: This is really a great coloring book if you have a wish to color on a low spoon/low energy day. The mix of simple/intermediate/ complex designs means that people with visual and fine motor control issues can all enjoy. The large size of the book means that it is a little unwieldy to use with a standard sized clipboard, if you are like me and color on the couch. However! It works beautifully on my lap desk.
Where to buy: The suggested retail price for World of Flowers is $16.95 USD. It can be found at Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and online at Amazon.
As children, we are molded by our parents. not just our beliefs and morals, but our habits and hobbies. My dad has been a reader for a long as I can remember. There were always magazine subscriptions and best-selling novels piled up by his favorite chair in the living room. When I was a teenager, I became addicted to reading The Smithsonian Magazine, often stalking the mailbox after school so that I could read it before Dad. (Sorry Dad, but not sorry…) This lead to snagging the novels, and discovering a love of both nonfiction and historical fiction.
Title: The Butchering ArtAuthor:Lindsey FitzharrisNarrator:Ralph ListerPublisher:Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux Audible StudiosReleased:October 17, 2017 /October 31,2017Language:EnglishPages:304Hours:7 hrs and 54 minsFormat:Paperback / Audiobook
I came by The Butchering Art through happenstance. I was reading a Facebook post by the Ravenmaster, who mentioned being at a book signing with Dr. Lindsey Fitzharris. I followed the links and found a post by Dr. Fitzharris about her book, The Butchering Art. I was absolutely fascinated by the premise of the book, a biography written in a storytelling style. I searched my local libraries, but to no avail. When I was out of options, I reached out to Lindsey on her Facebook page. She was amazingly supportive and gracious; she reached out to her publishing company to send me a copy.
I took my time reading The Butchering Art, there is such a depth of detail and colorful characters. The timeline consists of the entirety of Joseph Lister’s schooling and medical career. While I tend to avoid biographies, preferring to focus on moments in history, rather than individuals; this book combines the two. Dr. Lindsey Fitzharris’s storytelling is captivating! She tells the story of a quiet, modest man who had a scientific mind and an obsession with ending the scourge of hospital-borne illnesses. Lister’s explorations in germ theory and antisepsis made me incredibly aware of how very lucky I am that Lister succeeded in educating the medical community about these issues. I’ve survived pneumonia, influenza, strep and a major surgery. If not for Dr. Lister, I may not have.
I then listened to the audiobook, which is narrated by Ralph Lister, himself a distant relation of Joseph Lister. The Butchering Art, as an audiobook, is a delight to listen to. Mr. Lister’s narration is dynamic and captivating, with accents that bring life to the various personalities quoted. I found his slightly raspy voice engaging and impossible to ignore.
I can definitely recommend The Butchering Art for anyone who enjoys history, nonfiction, medicine, or has a strong stomach. Dr. Fitzharris doesn’t gloss over the horrors that was medicine in the Victorian Era, nor does she shirk from the details. This book is a journey from the dark ages of ignorance into the bright beginnings of scientific medicine.
This last week has been crazy. You see, SC and I are heading off to the first of our big three conventions. During the Spring and Summer, I work as a part time vendor selling plushies (stuffed animals) at anime and science-fiction conventions. However, once a year I get to switch my seller hat for a buyers one. We start our year at Toy Fair!
Toy Fair New York is a trade show for just about everyone involved in the toy industry. Buyers, sellers, inventors , and investors, they will all be there.
For four days, SC and I will browse through a mindboggling array of booths looking for both plushies for the Boss and for new blog material for me. There are roughly 1060 vendors there, I’ve managed to winnow it down to a list of 200. Still, that’s a lot of people to see and talk to!
Let me introduce you to Jæger. He’s my ESP(emotional support plush). He’ll be popping up on both my Twitter and Instagram while I’m at Toy Fair.
That’s the fun part of this weekend, the not fun parts? We’re taking a train to NYC from Virginia. I love traveling, but hate the fact that my illness doesn’t agree with sitting for long periods of time. Also, NYC in winter is usually not my cup of tea. I hate being cold! The worst thing though, is that this year I’ll be renting a wheelchair.
I use a cane about 90% of the time, except on good days in my own home or at the homes of friends I know really well. I really only use the motor carts at the supermarket as an absolute last resort.
I don’t want to need to use a wheelchair, but after spending 9 hours on a train, arriving at 2 in the morning, and walking around Times Square to get to one of our favorite 24 hour diners (Tick Tock Diner), I’ll be completely wrecked. We did it last year with me on a cane and I ended up exhausted. I can’t do my job exhausted, much less out of spoons.
It sucks, and I had to deal with several anxiety attacks over the idea of transitioning to a wheelchair, even if temporarily. I fight constantly to keep as much of my independence as I can, and detest feeling like a burden.
SC, bless him, does his best to help me. He was the one to fight for me going to a cane instead of leaning on him for balance. I hated that back then, but he was right, once I got used to my cane it gave me back the pep and vigor I’d thought lost for good. Hopefully, using a wheelchair for a day or two will save the spoons I need to do my best at Toy Fair.
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Back in August, just as I was starting to blog, I was contacted by Christie Dotolo. She is the CEO of Gearhead Puzzles, a woman/veteran owned puzzle company. Gearheads focuses on classic cars and she wanted to know if I was interested in doing Chevy Gold; their inaugural puzzle.
I was super green, and super eager, so I said yes. Thus began my six month road trip with Chevy Gold.
Please keep in mind, everyone puzzles differently. My challenge may be your cakewalk.
It’s a gorgeous puzzle, and I did an unboxing video when it first came in! Click here.
This puzzle is based on a fantastic photograph by Laurie Hatcher of the interior of a 1952 Chevrolet. My dream car has always been a 1957 Chevy Bel Air (I dig tailfins), so I was excited by the subject matter.
In my eagerness to do ALL THE THINGS, I seriously overestimated both my ability to do projects, and forgot that Murphy loves hubris. September had hurricanes, October was booked solid, so I planned to debut the puzzle in November.
My initial assembly went quickly, as I focused on the frame, speedometer and the center of the steering wheel. The pieces are random cut, on a sturdy midweight chipboard. The image is a bit blurred due to being blown up and made into a puzzle, and has a semi-gloss finish. If this is the quality of their first puzzle, I’m seriously impressed!!
There are a lot of shades of brown, black and gray in this puzzle. After a few days, I started to struggle. My eyes didn’t want to focus on the slight variations, and my frustration mounted. I put a cover on it and focused on my Christmas puzzles. This saved my sanity, but made me feel incredibly guilty. I’ve never given up on a puzzle, but I really wanted too.
After the mess of Christmas and January, I started again. I cleared off all the debris that had covered the puzzle board, resorted my pieces by color and tried again. I wasn’t perfect, I still had a mild hate for the difficulty and coloration of the puzzle. I mentioned this to Christie, who patiently checked in with me and agreed that Chevy Gold was a tricky puzzle. I swear, her patience and understanding is what goaded me to finish. I WANTED to do Christie’s puzzle.
Superbowl Sunday, I worked on Chevy Gold. I looked at the tv for commercials, but I was determined to finish. I filled in most of the dark areas by halftime, but was missing four light brown pieces from the steering wheel. My cats have loved sitting on this puzzle, so I did the smart thing and swept under the couch. I found dust bunnies, cat toys and three of my missing pieces!
I kept going, because as the number of pieces dwindled, the ease of matches increased. I could see I was going to finish!!
Remember what I said about Murphy? Yeah, he’s laughing.
One piece!! Months of assembly, and I’m denied victory at the final hour! SC is convinced that the cats or fairies have hidden it. I’m convinced that I know how Captain Ahab felt. I’ve torn the living room apart, but that missing piece is mocking me.
You win Chevy Gold. I still feel accomplished.
This is officially the most difficult puzzle I have done yet. Also, my longest assembly time. If you love classic cars and a serious challenge, try Chevy Gold. Gearhead Puzzles has since added three other puzzles to their catalog, all 500 pieces. They look amazing. For me, I’ll wait until they make a puzzle of a Tucker 48.
Company: Gearhead Puzzles
Title: Chevy Gold
Artist: Laura Hatcher
Year released: 2017
Cut-Style: Steel-cut Die
Finished size: 19¼ x 26¾ inches
Bonus poster: No
Made in USA
Box: Thin cardboard, sturdy, 10 x 8 x 2¼ inches
Board: Medium weight chipboard, sturdy pieces
Image Quality: Excellent
Puzzle Dust: Minimal
Piece Fit: Excellent, once fully assembled. Because of the random cut, some pieces will be loose until connected to the whole.
Disability Notes: Due to the difficulty level of this puzzle, I would not recommend Chevy Gold for anyone with a visual impairment that makes differentiating similar shades impossible. Some puzzle pieces are small, so folks with arthritis or hand mobility issues may want to wait for a good day or look at Gearhead’s 500 piece puzzles.
Where to buy:Chevy Gold is available on the Gearheads website for $18.95 USD. They also have three other puzzles at this point in time.