Category Archives: Puzzle Review

Leafy Greens: Building an Appetite for a New Kind of Puzzle

Hang onto your hats, Ladies and Gents, this post is gonna be controversial!

Marijuana AKA Cannabis AKA over 1200 other nicknames including dank, weed, pot, chronic and MaryJane. With Michigan joining in with 9 other states and D.C to legalize recreational use and another 23 states that have legalized medical use; Marijuana has been growing in popularity.  Some of my friends and readers have found relief from their various illnesses due to this herb. For myself, I’m hoping Virginia expands our current status of medical use for Epilepsy only, to something more universal.

When I found out about a new puzzling brand was just starting out, I contacted them. Their puzzles aren’t on the market just yet, but they’ll be doing a Kickstarter campaign soon.

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Check out this box!

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Buzzed Puzzles, founded by Josh and Stephanie Sola; is a brainchild brought about by the repetitive themes in most puzzle images. They aren’t wrong, to find anything remotely sexy for an image I have to buy overseas! Buzzed Puzzles is about pushing boundaries, art and bringing puzzling back to the Xennial and Millennial Generations. And this puzzle, Leafy Greens, is exactly what D.A.R.E was warning you about!

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That bag? It’s a resealable, reusable zip-bag!

The box is a thin and sturdy cardboard with a tucked edge top and the puzzle came in a reuseable, resealable plastic bag. There was NO puzzle dust when I poured out all 504 pieces! IMG_4550The colors are remarkably vibrant, and the piece cuts unusual.

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I had a hard time keeping the cats off this puzzle, they were treating my desk lamp like their own personal sun lamp! Considering the subject matter, SC found this hilarious!

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I feel slightly guilty loving this image. I enjoyed putting it together, as 504 pieces is a perfect mix of ease and difficulty; and because before this, I hadn’t realized just how many colors Cannabis leaves came in! I’ll be giving this puzzle to SC for gluing and mounting!

I’ll be watching Buzzed Puzzles closely, as I desperately want 2 of their other designs, Mermaid and A Thousand Lives.

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: Buzzed Puzzles
  • Title: Leafy Greens
  • Artist: Not Listed
  • Year released: 2018
  • Pieces: 504
  • Cut-Style:  Random
  • Finished size: 16″ by 20″ inches
  • Bonus poster: No

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Small, compact and sturdy cardboard, 9¾” by 7″ by 1½” inches
  • Board: Thin but sturdy pieces, really good click
  • Cut: Steel-cut Die
  • Image Quality: Excellent, great color saturation
  • Finish: Satin,
  • Puzzle Dust: None!!
  • Piece shapes: A good mix of traditionally cut and irregular pieces
  • Piece Fit: Very Good. You cannot pick up sections easily, but once set into the whole, it snaps in tight!

Disability Notes: YMMV I can definitely recommend this for a person whose hands have good and bad days. I did this on good hand days, but the piece size is acceptable for a bad hand day.  It took me 3 days of  good concentration to complete this, but I was fighting exhaustion and brain fog!

Where to buy:  Leafy Greens is not listed on Buzzed Puzzles Kickstarter list at this time, but many of their other puzzles will be available for funding soon!

Buzzed Puzzles : Website / FaceBook / Kickstarter

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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Halloween Cookies and My Sisters

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My parents and two of my younger sisters visited for my birthday last week. It was a whirlwind few days, but I managed to wrangle both Hime (not her real name but she’s 9 and I’m keeping her online presence on the DL) and  Little-Big (she’s younger than me, but MUCH taller!) into doing a puzzle for the blog. This wasn’t overly hard, LB and I grew up doing puzzles, and Hime has been doing them electronically for the last year.

As the theme of my week with them was Halloween decorating, Cobble Hill’s Halloween Cookies was perfect! The Family Pieces puzzles have pieces in large, medium and small so everyone in the family can participate!

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LB’s hands are on the left and Hime’s are on the right.

I wasn’t able to get my usual picture of the frame(edges) as we had a bit of a problem finding them all! While the Family Pieces puzzles are meant for a range of ages to partake in the assembly, this one was incredibly tricky! We ended up filling in the frame as we found the pieces and filled in the puzzle.

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Yes, I totally stealth-moded a candid pic of the girls hunting for pieces.

We assembled this puzzle differently from my usual method. Because LB and Hime hadn’t worked with random cut pieces before, we focused on the pattern recognition of the cookie designs. Teaching Hime to focus on searching for black and white webbing or pretzel pieces helped her not be discouraged as her older sisters seemed to take random pieces and made them fit. She made or finished several of our cookies once she got the technique down!

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This photo doesn’t do this awesome puzzle justice!

Overall, it took us 2 hours and 20 minutes from start to finish. I figured it was a great way to spend time with the sisters I rarely get to see. When I asked the girls their opinions on the puzzle, I got these responses:

LB: I liked the bonding, but I’m not sure if I like the random-cut pieces. They’re new to me I would have liked to have a poster or picture separate from the box lid.

Hime: It looked good enough to eat! I had fun and like the family bonding. I have no dislikes.

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: Cobble Hill
  • Title: Halloween Cookies
  • Artist: Cobble Hill Creations
  • Year released: 2018
  • Pieces: 350
  • Cut-Style:  Random
  • Finished size: 26″ x 19″
  • Bonus poster: No
  • Made from recycled materials
  • Made in USA

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Sturdy, Medium-weight, 10″x14’x2.5″ Matte-Linen Finish
  • Board: Thick and sturdy pieces, good for all 3 sizes of pieces
  • Cut: Steel-cut Die
  • Image Quality: Excellent, great color saturation
  • Finish: Satin,
  • Puzzle Dust: Small amount, more than the other Cobble Hill puzzles I’ve done before
  • Piece shapes: A good mix of traditionally cut and irregular pieces in 3 sizes
  • Piece Fit: Very Good, but loose. You cannot pick up multiple large or medium pieces and move them, but the small pieces could lock together and be moved in small batches.

Disability Notes: I can definitely recommend this for any multi-age family, or for a person whose hands have good and bad days. My sisters and I had fun and the full assembly only took us 2 hours and 20 minutes. 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: Halloween Cookies is available on the Cobble Hill website for $15.99 usd.

Cobble Hill Puzzle Company : Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received a complimentary puzzle from the manufacturer in exchange for 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!

Charles Wysocki’s Trick or Treat Hotel

It’s definitely getting closer to Halloween! The store shelves are groaning under the weight of candy, SC is looking at scary makeup tutorials and I’m weighing the eternal adult question… Do I just buy my candy, or do I take a cut from the minions? It will most likely be a mix of the two, I’m hunting my favorite but hard to find candy, Trolli Watermelon Gummy Sharks and when I find them, I’ll buy tons! I’m also taking the minions (my godsons) out trick or treating, and will get a cut of the spoils. 

Much like the childhood institution of trick or treating, I have fond memories of Buffalo Games’s puzzles. I grew up in a small town in Central New York, and Buffalo Games was one of 3 New York puzzle companies. Because of proximity, I put together a LOT of Buffalo puzzles. I learned to love the soft click of a piece snapping into place. 

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This is Charles Wysocki’s Trick or Treat Hotel. I’ll admit that it confused me to equate this puzzle with the usual hometown or cat paintings the artist is known for! How could someone who is called the Master Painter of Americana create such a creepy picture? img_4356

This 500 piece puzzle came with a fold out poster to help in assembly.

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Zoomie, our very own PuzzlePaws, helped make sure the edge pieces didn’t disappear!

The edges went together just as I remembered, with that Perfect Snap™ that is a Buffalo puzzle signature.img_43571

Other than chasing off the cats, this puzzle came together rather quickly until I hit the sky. With the tree branches, cobwebs and odd scattered creatures, that section was quite the challenge!img_43611

As I assembled this puzzle, I kept finding all sorts of cute details that were mixed into the weird ones.

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I love the black cat on this pumpkin witch’s head!
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I’m not sure if that’s a stuffed demon or a ventriloquist’s dummy.
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I think this is the best piggyback ride I’ve ever seen!

 

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: Buffalo Games
  • Title: Trick or Treat Hotel
  • Artist: Charles Wysocki
  • Year released: Unknown
  • Pieces: 500
  • Cut-Style:  Random
  • Finished size: 21¼ in by 15 in
  • Bonus poster: Yes
  • Made in USA

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Light and compact, 7.75″ by 7.75″ by 1.5″
  • Board:  Medium weight chipboard, sturdy pieces
  • Cut: Steel-cut Die
  • Image Quality: Excellent, great color saturation
  • Finish: Semi-gloss
  • Puzzle Dust: Minimal
  • Piece shapes: A good mix of traditionally cut and irregular pieces
  • Piece Fit: Excellent. Some of the irregular pieces make it so that pieces can only be moved in small groups, but once assembled the whole puzzle is nearly solid!

Disability Notes: The slightly larger size pieces of the 500 piece puzzle are kinder to the hands while still being complex enough to challenge lovers of larger piece count puzzles. Honestly, I will be trying this brand’s 300, 750 and 1000 piece counts for later posts. I can recommend this for people with mild to moderate arthritis or hand/eye coordination.

Where to buy: Trick or Treat Hotel is available on the Buffalo games website for $10.95 usd.

Buffalo Games : Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received a complimentary puzzle from the manufacturer in exchange for 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!

Laughter and Wooden Puzzles: A Computer Catastrophe Review

SC says I’m stubborn. I claim it’s more being so determined that I ignore my limits. The end result is usually the same. I push too hard, and end up in bed staring at the ceiling. Not this time! Well….sort of this time. I spent the day in bed, but thanks to my incredible stubbornness/determination; I had this awesome puzzle to do.  IMG_4263

I really love this box. Artifact Puzzles boxes are sturdy, covered in a ribbed blue cloth that helped my grip and has a little magnet in the lip of the lid for reusability.

Artifact Puzzles are made with environmentally friendly plywood and soy-based inks. The pieces are thick, about 1/2cm, which is great because unlike chipboard puzzles, these will last a really long time if you take care of them. SC still has the wooden puzzle his grandfather made back in the 1950s! (SC Edit: I can’t remember what it looks like, it has no reference image!)IMG_4281

Because the pieces are laser-cut, there is a wide range in shapes available. This includes the themed whimsies! I’m not sure who liked the puzzle more, myself or SC!

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Hurricane really wanted to help with this one! She smelled all the pieces and hid under the lap desk while I assembled.

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This is one of the most delightful puzzles I’ve ever had the pleasure of assembling! Engagingly tricky to assemble, but not so much that it is disheartening; this puzzle brightened an otherwise deary day. I loved the interplay of whimsies and computer technician jokes! I found myself laughing so loudly I woke Hurricane when I found the ID10T ERROR!

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Problem exists between keyboard and chair!

Also giggle-worthy were the computer bugs, test tubes of viruses and random mice!

Then there was this guy, my favorite of the whimsies, a three-part dragon.IMG_4278

All in all, it was a productive afternoon! I got to work this fantastic puzzle, SC got to keep me in bed and resting. CFS is no fun, but I hope that my blogging will help others see that not only are they not alone, but there are tons of fun things to do working around the fatigue.

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: Artifact Puzzles
  • Title: Computer Catastrophes
  • Artist: Randal Spangler
  • Designer: Jef Bambas
  • Year released: 2018
  • Pieces: 182
  • Cut-Style:  Random
  • Finished size: 10″ by 10″ inches
  • Bonus poster: No
  • Made in USA

QUALITY: 

  • Box: 6.5″ by 8.75″ by 1.75″ inches
  • Board: Thick and sturdy wooden pieces
  • Cut: Laser-cut
  • Image Quality: Excellent, great color saturation
  • Finish: Semi-gloss, with great color saturation
  • Puzzle Dust: Nonexistent!
  • Piece shapes: Irregular with plenty of themed whimsies
  • Piece Fit: Loose, but the addition of certain pieces will “lock” a section so that they can be moved in small and medium blocks

Disability Notes: Honestly, I think the review speaks for itself. I managed to assemble this on a lap desk in bed without losing any pieces! I did rely on the advice I’d received that to place the pieces together, they had to be put in from above and not the usual sideways motion.

Where to buy: Computer Catastrophes is available on the Artifact Puzzles website for $40 USD. No sticker shock, here guys! These are high quality, artisan puzzles that will last for decades if well cared for.  These puzzles are a definite birthday/Christmas/Yule/I-messed-up present!

Artifact Puzzles : Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received a complimentary puzzle from the manufacturer in exchange for 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!

Eric Dowdle’s Harvest Festival: The Pumpkining!

I love Fall. I was born in October, and the season has always been a favorite. There are days that it feels like summer is still in its height, and some where it cools just enough to need a hoodie. Ok, not so much for me….I live in Virginia now. But I grew up in Upstate NY right on the shores of Lake Ontario. Summers were short, “Winter Was Coming” and Fall meant apples, pumpkins, hayrides and giant leafpiles. I went shopping the other day with SC, and the stores are full of Halloween. I had wanted to wait until the First, but this puzzle really captures the memories and mood of Fall for me. What the heck, the Vernal Equinox is later this week, that’s close enough!

I really like Dowdle’s boxing. There is a heavy paper sleeve encasing a pretty little box.IMG_4208

The box is really well constructed, folding around itself and sealing with a Velcro button so that the box is reusable.

Better yet! All Dowdle puzzle come with a mini-poster of the image and a resealable plastic bag. IMG_4211

Now to assemble!IMG_4215

For a 500 piece puzzle, this was really tricky in places. the amazing amount of detail that artist Eric Dowdle puts into his art and the random piece shapes kept me busy all evening! SC even put a few pieces together, commenting that it was harder than it looked.

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Harry Potter Pumpkin!!
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Gotta love Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head
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Candy Corn Pumpkins!
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So many memories! My parents took a bunch of photos like this when I was growing up with my siblings!

SC had to take my finished picture, as I was having a horrible time getting my pictures to come out right. After finishing this puzzle, I have two thoughts. First, now I feel properly ready to Fall, and secondly…I need a pumpkin spice latte, stat!

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SC is a photography genius.
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Pandemonium approves! Puzzles are cat-baths, don’tcha know?

About the Company: Dowdle Puzzles is a part of Dowdle Folk Arts. The artist and owner is Eric Dowdle, who has over 200 folk art paintings, mostly focusing on American cities and national parks.  As well as selling paints, prints, and puzzles, Dowdle is now branching out into coloring books! (I’ll be wishlisting those!) 

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: Dowdle Puzzles
  • Title: Harvest Festival
  • Artist: Eric Dowdle
  • Year released: Unknown
  • Pieces: 500
  • Cut-Style:  Random
  • Finished size: 16″ by 20″ 
  • Bonus poster: Yes
  • Made in USA

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Sturdy and compact, 7.5″ by 7.5″ by 3″, with paper sleeve
  • Board:  Medium weight chipboard, sturdy pieces
  • Cut: Steel-cut Die
  • Image Quality: Excellent, great color saturation
  • Finish: Semi-gloss, with great color saturation
  • Puzzle Dust: Minimal
  • Piece shapes: A good mix of traditionally cut and irregular pieces
  • Piece Fit: Very Good. Some of the irregular pieces make it so that pieces can only be moved in small groups.

Disability Notes: The slightly larger size pieces of the 500 piece puzzle are kinder to the hands while still being complex enough to challenge lovers of larger piece count puzzles. Honestly, I want to try this brands 300 and 100 piece counts for this winter when my hands threaten to swell into claws. I can recommend this for people with mild to moderate arthritis or hand/eye coordination.

Where to buy: Harvest Festival is available on the Dowdle Puzzles website for $19.99 usd. At the time of this post, it is sold out.

Dowdle Puzzles : Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received a complimentary puzzle from the manufacturer in exchange for 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!

Basket Case Family Pieces Puzzle: A Review

I know that most people with disabilities have families. Okay, all humans pretty much have families, but what I meant was; most of us have kids. My kids have fur, and do more damage to my projects than help…oh, wait, just like real kids. Nevermind that! Anyway, not having human children, I borrow my friend’s. I play auntie and Godmom to a small horde, who sometimes like to help out with my hobbies.

A few days ago, I “borrowed” Minion 1 and Minion 2 from their mom. Minion 1 is 8, and loves puzzles. Minion 2 has just turned 5 and while he likes puzzles, his attention span is hit & miss (SC Edit: He has the attention span of a ferret on speed!). Anyway, I’d gotten some of Cobble Hill’s new Family Pieces puzzles, and the boys were keen to do one.IMG_3929

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Top-Minion 1, Far Left -Minion 2, Bottom Center- Me!

The Family Pieces Puzzles come with 3 distinct size pieces. Large for young children, Medium for older children, and small for adults.

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Sorting didn’t take long with three pairs of hands! Minion 1 was a little miffed he had less medium pieces than his brother’s large ones, but once we started, he was helping everywhere! IMG_3933

Some of the edge pieces were tricky to find! We had a blast matching colors and seeing who could complete more kitten faces. At the end of the assembly, Minion 2 was starting to get a bit bored, as we were down to the small adult shapes. Still, he rallied to help place the last 4 pieces and complete the puzzle! IMG_3935

There was lemonades in celebration!

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: Cobble Hill
  • Title: Basket Case
  • Artist: © Braldt Bralds
  • Year released: 2018
  • Pieces: 350
  • Cut-Style:  Random
  • Finished size: 24″ x 18″
  • Bonus poster: No
  • Made from recycled materials
  • Made in USA

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Sturdy, Mediumweight, 10″x14’x2.5″ Matte-Linen Finish
  • Board: Thick and sturdy pieces, good for all 3 sizes of pieces
  • Cut: Steel-cut Die
  • Image Quality: Excellent, great color saturation
  • Finish: Satin, with great color saturation
  • Puzzle Dust: Minimal
  • Piece shapes: A good mix of traditionally cut and irregular pieces
  • Piece Fit: Very Good, but loose. You cannot pick up multiple large or medium pieces and move them, but the small pieces could lock together and be moved in small batches.

Disability Notes: I can definitely recommend this for any multi-age family, or for a person whose hands have good and bad days. The boys had fun and the full assembly only took about 2 hours. 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: Basket Case is available on the Cobble Hill website for $15.99 usd.

Cobble Hill Puzzle Company : Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received a complimentary puzzle from the manufacturer in exchange for 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!

Whiskers At The Window: A Large Piece Puzzle Review

I’ll be the first to admit that I have issues accepting all the changes that my disability has forced upon me. Some are easier to accept than others; it is easier for me to ask my husband to tie my shoes, for example, than to deliberately reach for the large piece puzzles. I really hate the fact that my hands have problems with both sensation and grip on bad days.  Thus, when my representative at The Jigsaw Puzzle Factory offered a 300 Large piece puzzle, I balked. I’m not that bad yet, really! My mind protested, but I know that while this blog is about my reviews and opinions; it is mainly about discovering things to make hobbies accessible.

So I waited for a day when my hands were sore and swollen, which after last week’s brick kit, wasn’t hard.

 

 

Whiskers At The Window reminds me of the puzzles I used to do as a kid. Not in a juvenile sense, but a fond nostalgia. I love the fact that the back of the box was given to the artist, Jane Maday.

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Nice neat packaging! No puzzle dust!

The size of the pieces where certainly large! Better yet, each side has a different texture, glossy and smooth on the front, and matte and pebbled on the back.

 

On to the puzzling! The sorting went quickly enough, as this is only a 300 piece, and I’ve been doing 500-1000 pieces for a while now.

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I forgot an important fact! This puzzle is ROUND! My normal boards are rectangular! I ended up having to have the Spouse-Critter set up the full-size card table and help me move my setup.

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So big! The diameter of the puzzle is 24 inches!

Amazingly, none of my cats were interested in this puzzle. My only interruptions were SC wanting my opinion on his current project. IMG_3889

All in all, I think I managed to assemble this in about three hours, which is a new record.IMG_3890

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: The Jigsaw Puzzle Factory
  • Title: Whiskers At The Window
  • Artist: Jane Maday
  • Year released: 2017
  • Pieces: 300
  • Cut-Style: Grid-cut puzzle
  • Finished size: 24″ round
  • Bonus poster: Yes
  • Made from recycled materials
  • Made in USA

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Sturdy medium weight, 8 x 8 inches
  • Board: Medium thickness, recycled chipboard
  • Cut: Cut with a steel-cut die, all pieces fully separated
  • Image Quality: Excellent, great color saturation
  • Finish: Slightly glossy
  • Puzzle Dust: None!
  • Piece shapes: A good mix of traditionally cut and irregular pieces
  • Piece Fit: Good, but loose. You cannot pick up multiple pieces and move them

Disability Notes: I have to give my rep credit, this a wonderful puzzle. 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: Whiskers At The Window  is available on the The Jigsaw Puzzle Factory website for $14.99 USD.

The Jigsaw Puzzle Factory: Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received a complimentary puzzle from the manufacturer in exchange for 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!