Adventures in the offing, and Courageous Conversations

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.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page.To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

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Patience, Persistance, and Chevy Gold

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.

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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.

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Day 1

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!!

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Day 2 (upside down)
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Day 4 So much brown!!

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.

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Day 38 Zane is sitting on my pieces and Hurricane is napping.

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.

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Day 42 Almost there!

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!!

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Day 42 part 2. The Patriots and Chevy Gold have won.

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.

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: Gearhead Puzzles
  • Title: Chevy Gold
  • Artist: Laura Hatcher
  • Year released: 2017
  • Pieces: 1000
  • Cut-Style: Steel-cut Die
  • Finished size: 19¼ x 26¾ inches
  • Bonus poster: No
  • Made in USA

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Thin cardboard, sturdy, 10 x 8 x 2¼ inches
  • Board: Medium weight chipboard, sturdy pieces
  • Cut: Random
  • Image Quality: Excellent
  • Finish: Semi-Gloss
  • 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.

Gearhead Puzzles : Website/ FaceBook

Disclosure: I received a complimentary puzzle  from the manufacturer  in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page.To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

Travel, Illness, Trolls, and the Feeding Thereof.

So it has been a while since my last posting…Understatement, I know. The latter half of December went more than a little haywire, courtesy of the topics in my title.

Firstly, travel: I got called back to New York for a Happy Family Emergency. I’ll post that separately, as it’s a fun story; but the travel home was hellish. Said hellish travel feeds into the other two topics, illness and trolls.

Illness is self-explanatory, I hope. If not, well, you are obviously not someone with the messed up immune system that most people with a chronic pain/autoimmune/genetic disorder have. If I stress, I get sick, if I’m exposed to crowds, I’ll most likely get whatever ick is in that crowd. If I’m exhausted from traveling, having been exposed to crowds and temperature extremes and being stressed at the same time??? SOOOOO Sick. If I come home from this only to find a disapproving Troll on my blog posting negatively?? Cue Sick and Depression Meltdown!

I’ve spent from December 22nd to January 14th in a haze. Depression is made of suck, and it hits everyone differently. Christmas was a haze of blah, despite everything SC did to make things better. A cold that settled in my chest left me with little energy and Depression ate my motivation and all color. Yes, Depression is capitalized. It’s a proper name; Depression is a monster I battle. It wins a few rounds, mostly because it cheats with stress and pain, or I win a few rounds. It’s a cycle. This time it won 3 weeks of my life. I marathoned 12 seasons of both Ancient Aliens and Forensic Files. Mostly because I didn’t have to think while watching them. I did develop a great theory on Giorgio Tsoukalos’s hair.

Thankfully, I have a good support network of friends and family, both IRL and online. They were there when I started to climb my way back out of the colorless Blah of Depression. This is life. My world has color and purpose again; I want to finish the posts I’d planned for Christmas and start my 2019 posts on National Puzzle Day on January 29th, 2019.

And my Troll? I’m going to face them. I’ve found that I have a lot to say. I’ll feed my anonymous troll and hope they choke. 

 

 

25 Days of XMAS – Day 9

Let me state for the record that my Mom is amazing. I was feeling really down earlier this month because I didn’t purchase my LEGO® Advent Calendar in October, when I saw it in my local Walmart. At the time, I figured it would be available for a while, and I’d be able to pick it up a little closer to Christmas. Ladies and Gents, I am an idiot.

This year’s calendar, LEGO® City 60201 FLEW off the shelves! by the time I thought to go buy it, most stores were out of stock, and the prices on Amazon and Ebay were outrageous! So I was resigned to not having an advent calendar for the first time in years, which made me a bit depressed.  But! Mom saved the day! (I refuse to ask what she spent). Lego City Advent Calendar 60201Like most Advent calendars, LEGO® Advent Calendars have a theme. LEGO® carries three different types, Star Wars™, Friends, and City. I’ve never been a fan of Star Wars™, and have found that the Friends sets, which are marketed to girls; to be overly simplistic. That leaves me with City, which usually has a neighborhood theme with lots of small intricate builds that make a great Christmas scene when I’m finished.

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As you can see, the calendar has a printed play-mat and 24 little doors, each hiding either a minifigure or a small build.

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The pictorial instructions are minimalist, but that’s okay, as the advent calendar is set for an age range of 5-12 years.

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Voila! I have a decorated lamppost!

I love the daily surprise of advent calendars, and the fact that you can detach the play-mat from the main box to create either a display or play area. I keep my calendars from previous years and display them with my holiday decorations.

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Pandemonium plays Godzilla on my LEGO® scene!

Disability Note: This kit includes tons of tiny pieces. It may not be good for someone with moderate to severe hand coordination issues, or for people with small children.

Where to buy: At the time of this post,  LEGO® City Advent Calendar 60201 is listed as sold out on the LEGO® website, it is priced at $23.99 USD. However, I have seen it listed for sale at Target for $26.49 USD.

Special Shout-Outs:  MOM!!

LEGO®is a trademark of the LEGO Group of companies which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this site

Disclosure: My awesome Mom purchased this product for my use, the fact I’m reviewing it is due to being bored with puzzles today. The opinions are my own, and do not in any way reflect the thoughts and views of the Lego Group of companies.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

25 Days of XMAS – Day 14

LEGO® polybags are some of my favorite treats. I collect them all year long, eagerly searching my local stores for new designs. This one has been waiting for winter in my to-do pile since last Spring!  The name of this kit is LEGO® Friends 30402 Snowboard Tricks with Stephanie. 

I’m starting to get the hang of videos.

Instructions 1
Instructions 2

Disability Note: I did this on a mild day, so it is easily assembled by kids 6 and up or an adult with good to decent hand motility.

Where to buy: At the time of this post,  LEGO® Friends 30402 Snowboard Tricks with Stephanie is listed as Retired on the LEGO® website. However, I have seen it listed for sale on ToyWiz or BrickLink

LEGO®is a trademark of the LEGO Group of companies which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this site.

Disclosure: I bought this item for my own use. The opinions are my own, and do not in any way reflect the thoughts and views of the Lego Group of companies.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

 

 

25 Days of XMAS – Day 8

This post is about the next-to-last item from Uncommon goods. SC was over the moon when I chose this puzzle.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater®, a 2-in-1 500 piece puzzle. I hadn’t done a double-sided puzzle since the original My Little Pony 3D one in the 1980s. The one side is a glossy reproduction of one of  Christopher Little’s photographs, while the other side is a matte reproduction of Fallingwater®’s blueprints.

With this puzzle being only 500 pieces, it only took me two days to assemble, and that was mostly because I would get distracted. The pieces are of a decent size, and I enjoyed the sensation of the different finishes on the two sides. I’ve only done one other Galison puzzle, but I’ve found them to be of excellent quality.

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I did my best to reduce the glare, but sunny days and glossy puzzles don’t mix! I assembled the puzzle using this side, and really loved it. There is a reason Frank Lloyd Wright’s building are remembered, each one has a certain…emotion to it.

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SC liked the blueprint side, and I can’t really blame him. There is something visually interesting about it.  Honestly, this puzzle was just too pretty to put back in the box. SC is in the process of layering fixative to it in the mudroom as I write. He thinks we can rig a double-sided picture frame so that we can hang this lovely puzzle in the dinning room and simply turn the frame around when we need to change our decor. Man is a genius, I swear.

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: Galison
  • Title: Frank Lloyd Wright Fallingwater®
  • Artist: Frank Lloyd Wright / Christopher Little – Photographer
  • Year released: 2017
  • Pieces: 500
  • Cut-Style:  Ribbon cut
  • Finished size: 24 x 18 inches
  • Bonus poster:Yes
  • Made in USA

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Thin sturdy  cardboard, 11.5  x 8.5  x 3 inches
  • Board: Mediumweight Recycled greyboard
  • Cut: Steel-cut dye
  • Image Quality:Excellent
  • Finish: Semi-gloss / Matte
  • Puzzle Dust:Minimal
  • Piece shapes: Traditional 2-Knob
  • Piece Fit: Excellent

Disability Notes: I found this to be a wonderfully easy puzzle to put together. The pieces are of a medium size and well-made. If you have mild hand issues, you should be just fine. If you have an eyesight issue, you may want a friend to help or a magnifier and light. All those greens and browns get tricky.

Where to buy: You can buy the Frank Lloyd Wright Fallingwater® puzzle for $16 USD  at the Uncommon Goods Website, listed below.

Uncommon Goods: Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received these products for free in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them. Fallingwater®is a trademark and a registered service mark of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. Photograph © Christopher Little.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

25 Days of XMAS – Day 7

Today’s puzzle is one that I’ve been dying to assemble since it came in this fall. Part of Buffalo Games’ Adorable Animal Series, Meowy Christmas has to be one of the cutest Christmas animal puzzles I’ve seen!

It’s so cute!!

Meowy Christmas is a 300 large piece puzzle, so I wasn’t worried that it would it take long to assemble. The puzzle is a ribbon cut, with the traditional 2-knob pieces, which is really nice  to do after having done quite a few random cut puzzles in the last few months. The large pieces are easy to handle, and harder to lose! The Kitten, AKA Hurricane, kept trying to hide a piece under the table as I worked. I think she liked the “shhhing” noise it made on the hardwood.

I’ll admit to being a horrible cat-mother…I put my Santa hat on two of my cats, just to see if they could be as cute. Honestly, there are reason my cats are house-cats and not furry models. Zoomie at least took the whole thing with grace…Teedle is convinced that I’ve lost my mind.

Zoomie is ready for her winter nap!
Teedle wasn’t enthused to wear the hat!

There are few pleasures for a puzzler better than opening a new puzzle and the wonderful “click” of a perfectly placed piece. Buffalo’s  “Perfect Snap” has to be one of the reasons I love the brand.

These kitties are cuter than mine in their winter headgear!

All done! As you can  see above, this puzzle is perfect for any cat-lover in your life.

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: Buffalo Games
  • Title: Meowy Christmas
  • Artist: Unknown
  • Year released: 2018
  • Pieces: 300
  • Cut-Style: Steel-cut Die
  • Finished size: 21.25 x 15 inches
  • Bonus poster: Yes
  • Made in USA

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Thin cardboard, sturdy, 8 x 8 x 1.5 inches
  • Board: Medium weight chipboard, sturdy pieces
  • Cut: Ribbon Cut
  • Image Quality: Excellent
  • Finish: Semi-Gloss
  • Puzzle Dust: Minimal
  • Piece shapes: Traditional 2-knob 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 older generations of their families, and think this would make a nice change from some of the puzzles available for those with Alzheimer’s or Dementia.

Where to buy: Meowy Christmas   is available on the Buffalo Games website for $10.95 USD. Buffalo Games also has started having displays at local Walmarts, but their selections will vary.

Buffalo Games : Website/ FaceBook

Disclosure: I received a complimentary puzzle  from the manufacturer  in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page.To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

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