Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

IMG_4543
Check out this box!

IMG_4545IMG_4547

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!

IMG_4549
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.

IMG_4558

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!

IMG_4560

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!

Advertisements

Uncommon Goods: Dragon Model and Literary Candles

I’m home from Convention again, and in need of a low-key kind of day.  I can’t be the only person whose mind has turned to the upcoming holidays and the dreaded shopping. Right? Thankfully, I have a friend who introduced me to Uncommon Goods.

Uncommon Goods is an online company who does still send out paper catalogues(on recycled paper!), and is dedicated to providing gifts for the hard-to-shop-for and enviromentally friendly. While I don’t consider myself a particularity hard person to get gifts for; I do appreciate nifty, one-of-a-kind things.

IMG_4522

I love candles, but tend to get bored with the same scent day after day. So I jumped at a chance to try out the Mini Library of literary candles. IMG_4525

You get ten .5oz  tealight candles, each with a different scent based upon bookish inspirations! The candles are made with 100% soy wax with natural fragrances and essential oils. The label can be used as a nicely scented bookmark. So far, I’ve tried Walden Woods, which smells of greenery(cedar, fir and pine) and Burning Books, which has a cinnamon/citrus scent(cinnamon,orange,fir). Both candle’s scents are mild, not overwhelming and I cannot wait to try the other eight!

I love trying new types of crafting, and SC recommended I look at 3D models that were not brick-based. Uncommon Goods has several of these, and I liked the look of this little dragon.

IMG_4529
In keeping with Uncommon Goods’ goals, this is an environmentally conscious craft!
IMG_4531
No paper waste here! The directions are inside the flaps of the box!

I found this to be a simple, but challenging project. It can be done in 15-20 minutes, but I took my time and enjoyed the process.IMG_4535

IMG_4538

The pieces are individually marked, and the glue was fast-drying and not messy at all! The hardest part was placing the smallest pieces at the very end. I could have used tweezers, but instead just used the edge of a fingernail to nudge them into place.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It came out super cute and little! I’ll definitely try another cardboard 3D model in the future!

IMG_4542

Where to buy: You can buy the Mini Library tealight candles for $15 USD and the Mini Dragon 3D Model for $10 USD at the Uncommon Goods Website, listed below. If you are like me, and can’t get out much to physically do your Holiday shopping, I recommend checking out their Christmas collection found here.

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.

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. 

img_4355

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.

img_43631
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.

img_43601
I love the black cat on this pumpkin witch’s head!
img_43591
I’m not sure if that’s a stuffed demon or a ventriloquist’s dummy.
img_43581
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!

The Moonlit Vale: A Mythical Coloring & Art Book by Annie Stegg Gerard

I meet a bunch of talented and artistic people at DragonCon every year, and this year was no exception! I got to talk with local artist Annie Stegg Gerard about the blog and my goals for it. She completely understood, having had her own trials with the boredom that is bed rest. She gifted me one of her coloring books, The Moonlit Vale.

img_4422
Teedle refused to move and so became my easel!

Annie also included this beautiful pencil-case, which I’ve been using for holding the spare markers that don’t fit in my coloring case.

I’ll admit that I’ve been dithering over this coloring book. It’s a LOT more complex than my usual fare, and I’ve been afraid that my coloring skills wouldn’t be able to do it justice. Today I sat down and simply TRIED. It was harder than it sounds.img_4424

Look at this beautiful art! img_4427

The book is small, only 8″by 8″ inches, and has 78 perforated pages. Now, I can’t say that they are single-sided pages, as on the back of each one is a little illustration that you can also color, which is great for people who prefer colored pencils.

img_4425
Isn’t he sweet??

For the marker and gel pen colorists, Annie includes a thick vellum sheet to place behind your artwork to prevent bleed through.img_4423

I absolutely surprised myself! Can’t believe that I managed to make something that pretty…it must be because of Annie’s amazing art. Yup.

img_4429

img_4426
I love this, as the last piece in the book, it warms my heart!

 

Now that I’ve done one piece, I can’t wait to color another! Not only has Annie made Moonlit Vale, which features mythical animals and ladies; but she has also drawn a coloring book called The WildWood Soiree, which features animals in outfits that remind me of both Beatrix Potter illustrations and Brian Jacques’s Redwall series.

Where to buy: You can buy The Moonlit Vale and pencil-case at Annie Stegg Gerard’s website for $30 USD. You can also buy her other lovely coloring book, The WildWood Soiree there for $20 USD

Annie Stegg Gerard’s Art : 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 © 2018 Annie Stegg Gerard. The coloring is mine.

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.

IMG_4223
Harry Potter Pumpkin!!
IMG_4224
Gotta love Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head
IMG_4226
Candy Corn Pumpkins!
IMG_4228
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!

IMG_4235 (Edited)
SC is a photography genius.
IMG_4233
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!

Ethereal Visions Coloring Book: Tarot and Art Nouveau

I’m home again, after a few days away due to the Hurricane Florence Evacuation. I’m glad to be home.  I’m thrilled to say that our home is untouched and the cats are back to their usual shenanigans. Unfortunately, Florence is making my life minorly miserable due to barometric pressure. The fatigue and brain fog are strong, which is why today’s post is running so late.

Aside from that, while I was at DragonCon, I got to meet Matt Hughes. He’s a really talented artist that does illustrations in the Art Nouveau style. He’s funded most of his projects through Kickstarters, which is really awesome. Right now, Ethereal Visions Publishing, the company Matt’s wife Hope founded and runs; has pre-orders up for an illuminated  edition of the works of Edgar Allen Poe and Matt is currently working on illuminating pages for a project based on Mozart’s Requiem.

IMG_4193

The tarot is a pack of playing cards, used from the mid-15th century in various parts of Europe to play games. Many of these tarot card games are still played today. In the late 18th century, it began to be used in parallel for divination in the form of cartomancy and specialist packs were developed for this occult purpose. The Major Arcana that this coloring book focuses on is definitely influenced by one of the original occult decks, the Rider-Waite deck. I find the art to be beautiful and to have a hidden complexity.

IMG_4202
The Emperor

This coloring book is amazing! It’s rather large, measuring 12″ by 9″. The paper is heavyweight, but really smooth. I was shocked how good my markers and colored pencils looked when coloring. While I usually use a piece of cardstock under my works-in-progress, I found I really didn’t need it.

IMG_4197
The Chariot

The only issue I found was that due to my book lover’s habit of not wanting to break the spine of any book, I needed to use a craft knife to cut my pages free. Once I reread the lovely note that Matt wrote as a preface, it was much easier. Coloring books are meant to be USED. In fact, this one is meant to be used as a meditation exercise.

IMG_4199
The Moon

I’m not sure my coloring stacks up to this amazing art, but I’m having fun doing it. While I know Matt is up to his eyeballs in work, I really hope he’ll do another coloring book! I recommend following the FaceBook page because Matt posts all sort of beautiful works-in-progress.

Where to buy: You can buy Ethereal Visions 22 Major Arcana Coloring Book at Ethereal Visions Publishing’s website for $20 US.

Ethereal Visions Publishing : 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 © 2016 Matt Hughes. The coloring is mine.

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

IMG_3930
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.

IMG_3936

IMG_3932

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!