Earth Day, Yesterday, and All Year Long!

Yesterday was Earth Day, a holiday started in 1970 that focuses on environmental reform and the human impact on this world we inhabit. Yesterday was also the day after Easter, and my mom and little sister headed home. I was wiped. Chronic illness means that I “hit the wall” and can’t push myself any further. Last week was a whirlwind, and by Monday, I was very much done. I spent Earth Day in bed.

Today, I’m still tired, but I wanted to bring up a thought. Earth Day was yesterday. Yesterday is over. Does that mean I can just put Earth Day and all it means on the shelf until next year?

Earth Day isn’t like most other holidays… It’s a way of life.

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This year, I managed to convince White Mountain Puzzles to allow me to do a few reviews. I immediately fell in love with Amazing Sea Turtles. It reminded me of the Earth Day commercials and shows I watched as a kid in the 80s and 90s.

I’ve never done a White Mountain puzzle, so I was surprised by the box stand that was included. Made of recycled cardstock, it holds the box lid so that you can have the puzzle image at hand. As this puzzle didn’t come with a separate poster, the box stand came in handy.

 

 

 

 

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My work space, border set up and ready to go!

I found this to be a delightful puzzle. It’s advertised as an E-Z Hold 300, which means it is made with slightly larger than normal sized pieces, on recycled blue chipboard. The grid-style cut was not challenging, but I don’t want a challenging 300 piece.  I do 300 pieces to relax and let me think.

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Look at my awesome turtles!

 

Back to my original point. Earth Day as a way of life. It’s daunting, isn’t it? especially as a person with disabilities. I love my straws, as they keep my hands from spilling drinks down my front, I like modern conveniences. But even I can do small things all year-round to help the planet. I can and do choose to buy puzzles made with recycled materials. I recycle and reuse items. SC and I have furnished our home in furniture that had been discarded but was still serviceable. I use public transit often, and I donate to earth-friendly charities when I can afford to.  I have in the past, planted trees. Small things, sure, but small things, like puzzle pieces add up.

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This is my Earth Day Big Picture.

This puzzle features a handful of sea turtles swimming through a busy coral reef. It’s a great image to show what we could lose, and what we need to protect. More importantly, it makes me happy. I love sea life and aquatic scenes.

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: White Mountain Puzzles
  • Title: Amazing Sea Turtles
  • Artist: Gerald Newton
  • Year released: 2017
  • Pieces: 300
  • Cut-Style:  Grid
  • Finished size: 18 x 24 inches
  • Bonus poster: No
  • Made from recycled materials
  • Made in USA

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Sturdy, Light-weight, 10 x 12 x2 inches, Glossy Finish
  • Board: Thin and sturdy pieces
  • Cut: Steel-cut Die
  • Image Quality: Excellent, great color saturation
  • Finish: Glossy
  • Puzzle Dust: A bit more than I prefer, but not too much
  • Piece shapes: Grid style, 4 shapes
  • Piece Fit: Excellent, nice tight fit that if careful, I could pick up

Disability Notes: The E-Z Hold pieces are really nice. They fit my hands well and I had no difficulties in assembly. I can recommend this size puzzle for kids and adults, and I think that people with hand or eye difficulties will enjoy it as the colors are amazingly bright!

Where to buy: Amazing Sea Turtles is available on the white Mountain website for $13.99 USD.

White Mountain Puzzles : Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received a complimentary puzzle from the manufacturer in exchange for review. The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

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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Easter Bunnies and Easter Eggs!

I don’t know about you guys, but Easter is one of the few holidays that I get excited about the food. As a kid, I loved my Easter basket filled with marshmallow Peeps, jellybeans, and chocolate bunnies. The best part wasn’t Easter supper with its ham and fixings, but Easter breakfast; where after searching the whole of the house for hidden eggs, I got to crack those colorful shells and roll my hard-boiled eggs in salt and pepper.

This Saturday, I’ll be helping my younger sister Hime and my god-daughter Bug fill my kitchen with the scent of vinegar and a veritable army of brightly colored eggs! Lucky for me, one of my favorite puzzle companies, Cobble Hill, unveiled a perfect Easter puzzle for the 2019 year.

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Easter Bunnies by Donna Race is a springtime delight! It’s a 500 piece random-cut puzzle that has three sweet bunnies guarding a nest of colored eggs among a field of early Spring flowers.

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The included mini poster! A super helpful puzzling tool!
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Ignore the cat hair, check out these weird shapes!!

I had help assembling this puzzle. My sister Hime is in town for the holidays, and she and Mom helped sort the border and started work on the bunnies. My Bestie Angel came by the other day and helped finish the bunnies and made a serious dent in all the flowers.

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Such bright colors!

I can’t express how happy this puzzle made me. It really brought home the fact that Spring is here, and that while my neighborhood flowers haven’t bloomed, they will soon! IMG_5372

I know that only some of my readers celebrate Easter, because some are observing Passover or Ostara this week. To all of you, I wish the best of holidays and I’ll see you on Monday, which is both Earth Day and Half-priced candy sales!

 

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: Cobble Hill
  • Title: Easter Bunnies
  • Artist: Donna Race
  • Year released: 2019
  • Pieces: 500
  • Cut-Style:  Random
  • Finished size: 19.25 x 26.625
  • Bonus poster: Yes
  • Made from recycled materials
  • Made in USA

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Sturdy, Medium-weight, 10″x14’x2.5″ Matte-Linen Finish
  • Board: Thick and sturdy pieces
  • Cut: Steel-cut Die
  • Image Quality: Excellent, great color saturation
  • Finish: Satin, linen texture
  • Puzzle Dust: Almost none
  • Piece shapes: Random
  • Piece Fit: Very Good, nice tight fit that if careful, I could lift it up completely

Disability Notes: I can definitely recommend this for a teen, an adult, or for a person whose hands have good and bad days. I had fun.  My hands didn’t ache after assembly, and the difficulty level was certainly up to adult standard.  I can happily recommend a large piece puzzle for people with fine motor skill issues, or arthritis.

Where to buy: Easter Bunnies is available on the Cobble Hill website for $15.99 USD. It is still in stock, so I suggest ordering in advance for next Easter!

Cobble Hill Puzzle Company : Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received a complimentary puzzle from the manufacturer in exchange for review. The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

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!

1500 Pieces!My Largest Piece Count Yet!

The fun part of being a puzzle blogger is finding new brands to try to stretching myself as a puzzler. Before I’d started PuzzlePaws, the largest puzzle I’d done was a 1000 piece, and honestly, I preferred 750’s.  While I don’t hold with New Year’s Resolutions, I do want to challenge myself and to be active in the puzzling community. Next year, I want to be able to join World Puzzle Days, and Jigsaw Jubilee. To do so, I  know I need to increase my piece count to include 1500 and 2000 piece puzzles! It’s a bit scary for me.

Thankfully, while I was at Toy Fair this year, I discovered Playview Brands, which is the spin-off company of Karmin International and their puzzle line. When I explained that my goals, I was offered a chance to try a different sort of large count puzzle.

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This is a triptych puzzle, or a three-in-one puzzle. There are three separate 500 piece puzzles that make a single 1500 piece image. It was perfect to help me work on this year’s goals!

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The puzzles came individually bagged and included a lovely poster to help with assembly.56706146_334053790799201_115726012595044352_n

I got a bit lucky, while the bags aren’t labeled as to which image they hold, I guessed by using the pieces I could see and managed to assemble them in order! Assembly was an adventure!

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I found the pieces to be on the small side of an average 500 piece puzzle, thin, but incredibly sturdy! They connect well and hold tightly.

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Puzzle 1

Puzzle 1, day 1, I had friends who had swung by to pick up some firewood SC had split and they stayed and spent a good hour or so helping me build the image. Elyse refused to go home until she found the piece of deer that was eluding her!

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Puzzle 2

Puzzle 2, day 2, I got a late start, and assembled it all by myself. Because of the late hour at which I finished and took the photo, my overhead glare is awful. Lesson learned, take photos in the mornings!

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Puzzle 3

Puzzle 3, day 3, I started this puzzle the night before, but had only managed the frame and sky before running out of spoons for the day. One of my besties came over in the morning to help me puzzle. She hadn’t done a puzzle since she was a little girl, so it was fun to show her tips and techniques.

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The Big Picture!!

This is a huge puzzle! When fully assembled, it is 24 inches high by 54 inches long! It completely took over my 6 person dining room table and I had to stand on a chair to take a picture.

 

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: Karmin International Puzzles/ Playview Brands
  • Title: Mountain Cabin Scene
  • Artist: Geno Peoples
  • Year released: 2018
  • Pieces: 3×500, or 1500
  • Cut-Style:  Grid
  • Finished size: 24″x 54″
  • Bonus poster: Yes
  • Made in China

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Sturdy, Medium-weight, 12″L x 8″H x 4″W
  • Board: Thin and sturdy pieces
  • Cut: Steel-cut Die
  • Image Quality: Excellent, great color saturation
  • Finish: Semi-gloss
  • Puzzle Dust: Almost none
  • Piece shapes: Grid style, 5 shapes
  • Piece Fit: Very Good, nice tight fit that if careful, I could lift it

Disability Notes: I can definitely recommend this for a teen, an adult, or for a person whose hands have good and bad days. My friends and I both had fun, and the full assembly only took us roughly 3 days. My hands didn’t ache after assembly, and the difficulty level was certainly up to adult standard.

Where to buy: Mountain Cabin Scene is available on the Karmin International website for $14.99 USD wholesale, I do not know if they do direct retail sales.

Karmin International Company : Website 

Disclosure: I received a complimentary puzzle from the manufacturer in exchange for review. The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

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!

Pilot FriXion Pens and Markers – Erasable Coloring?

Early this year, Pilot came out with a new line of pens and markers. They’re called FriXion, and are a new approach to an age-old problem for  anyone who uses an ink instrument. “How do I fix a mistake?” Erasable pens aren’t new, but most are either not effective, nor marketed towards colorists.

I like many colorists, love to try new mediums. I originally reached out to Pilot regarding their gel pens, and my Rep instead recommended I try both their FriXion Color Sticks and FriXion Colors Markers.

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FriXion Colors Erasable Marker Pens
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FriXion Color Sticks Erasable Gel Pens

Pretty, aren’t they? I’m going to tackle these separately. Pilot FriXion Colors Erasable Marker Pens is a mouthful, so from here on, they’ll be refered to as Markers. The set I received is a set of 12 colors.  Each marker has a smooth white body with a colored cap and eraser. The company states it is a bold line, but I found it to be comparable to a Sharpie® Fine Line Marker.

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When coloring, I found that the markers were smooth, so long as I didn’t try to cover large areas quickly. The ink is quick-drying and does not smear. While the color is not as vibrant as some of the other Pilot products, it comes out a really pleasing chalk-like matte.

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Colored with FriXion Markers, art by Johanna Basford

Now the FriXion Color Sticks Erasable Gel Pens, AKA Color Sticks, were really exciting for me. The set I received included 16 Color Sticks, and are a thin rigid plastic in the color of the ink, with a clear cap and color matched eraser.  IMG_5306

The pens are amazingly smooth and the ink is nicely pigmented. The color lays down nicely and has the same matte finish as the markers. It’s been years since I’ve colored with gel pens, and I can’t deny that the Color Sticks have reawakened my love of the coloring medium.

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Colored with FriXion Color Sticks, art by Celtic Mandalas

Now, the important thing about the FriXions….Do they really erase?

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Top row is markers, bottom row is Color Sticks

YES!!! They erase like a dream! FriXions use a thermosensitive ink that disappears with the friction of the eraser. Now, the darker colors may leave a slight tint behind on the paper, and the more you erase on the same spot, the harder it is to deposit ink on that spot.

Overall, I think both the Color Sticks and Markers are a great addition to any colorist’s collection.

Disability Note: Because of the fact that FriXions are erasable, I can highly recommend them for people who may want to transition from pencils to ink-based coloring. These are great if you have a problem with hand tremors or seeing fine detail. If you do make a mistake, the eraser can clean up your edges.

Where to buy: All of Pilot’s many FriXion product lines are available on their website. Over the last few months, I’ve been seeing FriXion Color Sticks and FriXion Markers at my local art and mass market stores. The prices vary by store, but neither set is more than $20 USD.

Pilot : Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received these markers and pens for free in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own. All art shown on this post is Copyright ©Johanna Basford and ©Celtic Mandalas. The coloring is mine. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

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!

LEGO® The LEGO Movie 2 Polybags

I missed out on seeing The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part in theaters, so I can’t wait for the dvd release! To pass the time until May 7th, I picked up two polybags from the local Walmart. I think my favorite thing about LEGO® is that they’re serious about being for ages X to 99! IMG_5267

First is LEGO® 30527  The LEGO Movie 2 Lucy vs The Alien Invader.

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From the movie trailers, I know that the villain is the DUPLO® Alien Invaders. This polybag contains a minifigure of Lucy in her new kick-butt outfit and an alien for her to fight. Lucy’s face is two-sided, happy Lucy and angry Lucy.  She comes with a brown scarf, quiver of arrows, and a crossbow.

The build for the DUPLO® alien was surprisingly complex! It looks so simple, but looks are deceiving. Check out the instructions.

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Alien down!! He’s cute, if a little top-heavy.

I found this build to be quite fun for a small kit. And the end result makes an awesome picture!

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Showdown!! Lucy vs Alien!

My other polybag kit is LEGO® The LEGO Movie 2 Mini Master-Building MetalBeard. Metalbeard is another character that was in the first The LEGO Movie and has an expanded role in the new movie. Again, I have not seen the new movie, I’m basing my info on movie trailers and Brickipedia.

This kit was of a higher difficulty, not surprising as the character is a Master Builder. The really cool thing is that while the instructions only give one configuration, this kit has 2 other configurations that can be downloaded here.

Metalbeard is a really cool figure. He has a telescope and saber, as well as a banner for his “tail” and his signature neckpiece. I loved the flame feather on his hat and golden claws on his spider legs.

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® 30527  The LEGO Movie 2 Lucy vs The Alien Invader and LEGO® The LEGO Movie 2 Mini Master-Building MetalBeard are not listed on the LEGO® website. However, I have seen it listed for sale on ToyWiz or BrickLink,  and at my local Walmart.

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

Disclosure: I bought these items 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!

 

One Color Arts – A Different Way to Color!

Hey gang, I’m home finally! I had fun at ZenkaiCon, and while I had to stay a few more days than I originally planned in Massachusetts; I was far from bored! Smart me had packed this coloring book and a couple of markers. My boss was beyond amused to see me pull a coloring book out of my bag, a fineline Sharpie, and color while exhausted.

 

Sunlife Drawing has done it again! They took a really interesting idea, how to color if I only had one or two colors and made a coloring book! Animals – One Color Arts is made of dots and lines that by only using one color, creates the image. The images are single sided, with the back of the page being black. This keeps the pens/markers/colored pencils from bleeding through. The paper quality is smooth and light, great for pencils, pens or markers.

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I see a kitty, do you?

It looks intimidating, doesn’t it? It’s not, really. When you look closely, the lines and dots become clear, and you can guess what animal you are creating.

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Frog!

I got curious, I wanted to know what the image would look like if I did the coloring in reverse. That is, What if I only colored the background?

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Boom! It’s a Bull!

Honestly, the images are excellent either way they are colored. While it is a bit harder to color the background, it is just as rewarding as coloring the foreground.

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Zebra!

I will note that I colored all these images with either Sharpies or watercolor markers. While the back of the page is blacked to prevent bleeding, I did also use a sheet of plain computer paper to assist. The only negative I have for this book is that the pages are not perforated, and I needed a craft knife to remove them from the book. However, I am aware that removing pages is my personal preference, and that not everyone does so.

Disability Notes: This book is great for someone who may be suffering from brain-fog, or have problems making decisions. Because of the dots and lines that make up the images, I warn that people with vertigo issues may not enjoy this coloring book. I fully plan to place this book in my travel bag, as with it, I won’t need to haul my full marker set with me!

Where to buy: Animals One Color Arts is available on Amazon, and currently on sale for $7.56 USD. Sunlife Drawing has coloring books in a multitude of styles, all are affordable, and there is bound to be something for everyone’s interest!

Sunlife Drawing : Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received this coloring book for free in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own. All art shown on this post is Copyright ©Sunlife Drawing. The coloring is mine. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

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!

Nifty Device From Toy Fair 2019

Hello?…Is this thing on?

Hi, SC here.  Puzzlepaws is unexpectedly out of town for an extended period (longer than expected due to “track maintenance” and “curfew”), so I decided to do a post (or two).

While we were at Toy Fair 2019, we came across a vendor selling this thing called an “iCaddy”. The original design was (not kidding) built out of toilet paper roll cores.  The basic concept is simple: a compact, durable phone and tablet stand, with replaceable charger, and cord storage. The iCaddy website calls it a mobile device multitool!

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The item as we received it.  The model featured on the front is the creator, Katrina.

We received the cat print, which is perfect for PuzzlePaws! Currently, iCaddy has thirteen different patterns.

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Box and contents including: iCaddy with accessories, introduction letter, sticker, and creator’s note.

The entire unit was easy to assemble, instruction were provided in the introduction letter.  The charger fits in a secure pocket in the section of the iCaddy that isn’t used for cord storage.

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This is the travel mode, nice and compact, easy to throw in a bag!

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While the iCaddy is not intuitive in its use, a bit of fumbling and looking at the back of the box allowed me to place it in its two configurations: Tablet Mode and Phone Mode.

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Tablet Mode
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Phone Mode

The iCaddy appears to be incredibly handy.  It holds the tablet incredibly securely (I was not worried that it would fall or tip), while the Phone Mode left the phone available (with minimal fumbling) if you had to take a call.  While it is not shown, there is sufficient space at the bottom of the phone to charge it while it is on the stand.

I was a little leery of “built-in storage”, but I’m pretty sure an engineer was involved in this design.  The cover is secure, but easy to open.  The storage is large enough to contain: earbuds of your choice, charging cable for the iCaddy battery, and a phone charging cable up to about 3′ in length.  It snaps securely closed once loaded.

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Internal storage

Surprisingly enough, the iCaddy came with earbuds.  Being an audiophile, included equipment comes in three forms: surprisingly good quality, name brand, or crappy.  (Not to say that name brand doesn’t also come in “crappy”.)

I compared the audio quality of the supplied earbuds (no brand listed) to my standard set of Skullcandy Ink’d earbuds.  While I couldn’t do a direct comparison as I don’t have that equipment, I was not disappointed.  The iCaddy earbuds have a good weight and a decent range, they fit my (admittedly standard) ears comfortably, bass support was good with little distortion (even at near-painful levels), the lyrics were not muddy, and the cable felt sturdy.  For an included set of earbuds, these were excellent.

The only glaring thing not included?  A charger.  As chargers have basically become ubiquitous (I think I have about 10 in the house not including the computers), a special charger just for the battery is really unnecessary.  The battery will charge with just about any 0.5A to 1A charger outputting 5V.  Charging time is reported to be about 3.5 hours.  Having owned similar chargers, they will supply about 1 fully battery’s-worth of power for a typical phone.

Overall this is an excellent product with a great design.  Since this is Convention season, I’m sure the iCaddy will be torture-tested in the field.

Where to buy: The iCaddy is available on their website for $24.99 USD. It may be available in mass market retailers eventually.

iCaddy : Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received a complimentary product from the manufacturer in exchange for review. The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

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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