Category Archives: Uncategorized

Sweetly Addictive, Adding to my Puzzling Habit

There are a dozen popular artists whose artwork is used for puzzles. I’m fond of Nene Thomas and Chris Ortega, not so much Thomas Kinkaid. Of the more recent artists, I’ve been avoiding Aimee Stewart. It isn’t that I don’t like her style, rather, I found myself intimidated. Aimee’s art is very reminiscent of Lisa Frank, all bright colors and happiness.

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While at Toy Fair, I spoke at length with one of Buffalo’s representative about their new puzzle lines and some of the art styles. When I mentioned how popular Aimee Stewart’s puzzles seemed amongst my puzzling groups, but that I was not sure I could handle the visual busyness; it was suggested I try the 300 Large Pieces version. I chose the Sweet Shop, as it reminds me of the old-fashioned candy store I went to as a girl in Cape Cod.

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Yes,this piece is a little bent. It came that way, and I’ve emailed Buffalo about it. 

The 300 Large Pieces are designed to be 67% larger than Buffalo’s normal puzzle pieces. I found them to be wonderful for gripping on a bad hand day, and they still had the Perfect Snap™!

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This shows both the Large size, and the fact I can pick up whole sections to move them!

My fear of being overwhelmed by the bright colors and busy design proved to be moot.  Instead, the cheerful, bright colors made assembly a joy! This puzzle was moderately challenging, but not so much as to need a break. With the tight fit between pieces, it is easy to move whole sections of pieces.

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So pretty!!

I might be hooked on these, not that I NEED more puzzles. One of the joys of being a reviewer is also the bane of my productivity. There are always new products to try, and very little time to go back and enjoy something I’ve already done. Then again, I might have to make sure an Aimee Stewart is set aside for the 2020 World Puzzle Days.

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: Buffalo Games
  • Title: Sweet Shop
  • Artist: Aimee Stewart
  • Year released: 2016
  • Pieces: 300 Large
  • Cut-Style: Steel-cut Die
  • Finished size: 21.25 x 15 inches
  • Bonus poster: Yes
  • Made in USA

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: Standard 2-knob and some star-shaped pieces
  • Piece Fit: Excellent

Disability Notes: As I noted, the large pieces of this puzzle are easy to handle, which is great for those of us with arthritis or other hand mobility issues. I know that several of my readers have puzzlers in the younger generations of their families, and think this would make a great family project.

Where to buy: Sweet Shop is available on the Buffalo Games website for $10.95 USD. Buffalo Games also has displays at local Walmarts and Targets, but their selections will vary.

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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Spring is Coming, and World of Flowers is Here!

I don’t know about you folks, but I’ve officially had my fill of winter. Gray days and cold weather, nasty colds and aching bones; I’m sick of the lot! But! The first day of Spring is coming soon, and one coloring book has been my mainstay through this whole rotten winter.

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Last October, Johanna Basford put out a new coloring book. I hadn’t tried any of her coloring books before, having been intimidated by the level of detail in both Secret Garden and Lost Ocean. However, I can’t grow as a colorist if I don’t test my limits, and Johanna’s Colouring Gallery on her website is a safe, welcoming haven for all colorists of all skill levels. I have to say, I love this woman. Johanna describes herself as an “Inky Evangelist” and her tutorials for coloring are upbeat and encouraging.  So I reached out to Johanna and her publisher in the US, Penguin Random House for a copy for the blog.  

World of Flowers is a good deal larger than the coloring books I usually use. It has 40 pages of double-sided images, giving you 80 pages of coloring adventures to have. The pages are 10 inches by 10 inches on a fantastic medium heavyweight paper. The pages are not perforated for removal, this style of coloring book is meant to be kept whole. Johanna’s books include  a color palette test page, so that you can not only see how your pencils/pens/markers look, you can also check for bleed through. This saved my bacon! My sharpies are a no-go in this book, but colored pencils, Hoolanda watercolor brush pens, fineliner markers, and Pilot Frixion markers all performed well.

I think my favorite thing about this book is the diversity of images. Johanna dedicated World of Flowers to her grandmother, an avid gardener. There is a multitude of plants, lots of tiny insects, a full gardening shed interior, a work truck and even a koi pond! Each page is different, and I found my inky journey being not sure where to go next!

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Disability Notes: This is really a great coloring book if you have a wish to color on a low spoon/low energy day. The mix of simple/intermediate/ complex designs means that people with visual and fine motor control issues can all enjoy. The large size of the book means that it is a little unwieldy to use with a standard sized clipboard, if you are like me and color on the couch. However! It works beautifully on my lap desk.

Where to buy: The suggested retail price for World of Flowers is $16.95 USD. It can be found at Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and online at Amazon. 

Johanna Basford: 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 ©Johanna Basford. 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!

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 3

Hi guys! It’s Day 3 and a Monday, which is typically SC’s designated day off. Mondays are when I get house stuff done. However, I’m not feeling so hot (winter weather making my body ache), so today is about one of my favorite low-key activities.

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I found Sunlife Drawing Company through a Facebook ad, of all things. It’s a small coloring book publisher who focuses on a particular type of coloring. All of us have done color by number at some point in our lives, and most adult colorists tend to ignore this style.

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What could this be??

The Christmas Animal Quest and Animal Quest books are definitely NOT child’s play! The full-page single sided book has images made of thousands of tiny numbered hexagons on the coloring side, while the back is a white text on black background list of the colors needed for the opposite page.  I have to admit, I loved this book!

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Birds? Maybe??

I enjoyed the level of focus needed to match colors to numbers, and the freedom that not having to decide which color went where gave me. Also, each new color unveiled more of the image, keeping me guessing as to the subject matter for quite a while!

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It’s a set of turtledoves and an angel! Super cute!

The reveal at the end was well worth it! Now, this is not a coloring project that goes quickly; and I did find out about halfway through that my progress would have went faster if I had chosen my colors ahead of time. Still, a perfect low impact activity for listening to Christmas carols on the radio and having a hot cup of tea.

Disability Notes: Due to the small size of the hexagons that make up the images, I can’t in good conscience recommend this coloring book for people with vision impairments or fine motor control issues. However! Sunlife Drawing does have a few books in their Mosaic series that have larger coloring areas!

Where to buy: Christmas Animal Quest Color by Number is available on Amazon for $8.99 USD.

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.

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 2

Yes, today’s post is at a different time than usual. There’s a reason. You see, a few years ago, before my disease got really bad, I worked at Colonial Williamsburg. I loved CW, and when I found out that Eric Dowdle had painted a quilt representation that had been made into a puzzle, I jumped on it!

 

As for the lateness of the hour? Well, today is Grand Illumination at Colonial Williamsburg. It’s the start of the Christmas season, with bands, parades, and at 9pm EST, there will be fireworks. Everyone has decorated the doors with homemade wreaths and the air is full of the scent of fresh-baked gingerbread and spiced cider. Grand Illumination is second only to the 4th of July! And since most of my readers aren’t local, I figured I’d share this little slice of my Christmas tradition. Go grab a mug of hot cocoa or hot apple cider and follow me!

All Dowdle puzzles come in a resealable box with a paper sleeve, and include a mini-poster of the design and a resealable plastic bag. I love this company’s dedication to minimal waste and reusable design.

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So many little pieces!!! So many colors!!

This puzzle has, much like it’s namesake city, weathered much. I started this puzzle in September, right before Hurricane Florence caused mass evacuations. I had to leave the puzzle behind and when I got home, it was weeks before I had the house settled back down to focus on it again. By the time I did, and finished assembling it, I found I was missing a piece! Horrors! The thing was…I could clearly remember finding the loose piece right before the evac…and putting it somewhere safe. But for the life of me, I couldn’t remember where!!

Poor SC had to deal with the fact that I had an ALMOST completed puzzle taking up room in the computer lab and was tearing the house apart looking for that missing piece for WEEKS!

It took forever, but I finally found my missing piece. It was right where I’d tucked it, on a shelf near SC’s video games.

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Finished at last!

 

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!

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: Dowdle Puzzles
  • Title: Williamsburg Quilt
  • Artist: Eric Dowdle
  • Year released: Unknown
  • Pieces: 1000
  • Cut-Style:  Random
  • Finished size: 19¼ by 26½ inches
  • 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 smaller size pieces of the 1000 piece puzzle are harder on the hands and eyes. 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 arthritis or good to excellent hand/eye coordination.

Where to buy: Williamsburg Quilt is available on the Dowdle Puzzles website for $19.99 usd.

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!

Ambitious Projects: UnCommon Goods Moving Flower Kit

It’s been a crazy month. SC and I had a lot of emotional ups and downs, but hopefully, going into December everything will go back to normal.  I know that my posts haven’t been as regular as I’d wish, so I have a few changes in the works to correct that as well as giving my Patreon the love it desperately needs.

So! Today is about more wonderful things from UnCommon Goods. When I chose my items, I made sure to think of SC as well as myself. SC’s job has him out in all weather, and his favorite pair of alpaca wool socks fell apart last winter. so I chose these lovely striped ones as a replacement! Shhh….It’s a secret, don’t tell him!

Nice Warm Socks!
I love this paper, so pretty!

Anyways, today’s project was really ambitious for me. I’ve been branching out (pun totes intended), from my usual puzzles and brick kits.  When I saw the Moving Flower kit, I knew I had to try it!

UnCommon Goods carries a few of the mechanical wooden building kits by UGears. The Moving Flower is made with Baltic Birch plywood that has been laser cut into the needed shapes.

This is the entire kit! Three sheets of pre-cut plywood, and instruction manual, some toothpicks and a square of sandpaper.

Overall, this was certainly a challenge for my skills! The kit recommends you use a candle to “wax” the moving parts so that they move better, which I did. While someone with at little more technical know-how might have an easier time, I had fun. The hardest part was connecting the flower part to the base without dislodging the internal gears. I ended up having to use a mini clamp from SC’s workbench to manage it.

This took several hours, but I can definitely see it as a fun engineering project for parents to do with their kids!

The Ballerina insert will hold your rings!
This is the Tree of Life insert that will hold your bracelets!
My quick video of the moving parts!

Disability Notes: This was a tricky project! I can’t really recommend it for anyone with hand issues, as it is really hand intensive. However, if you love a challenge and don’t have hand issues, go for it! The instructions are 99% pictorial, and for the most part, easy to follow.

Where to buy: You can buy the Moving Flower kit for $35 USD  at the Uncommon Goods Website, listed below. Unfortunately, the socks I got for SC are no longer in stock; but they do have other cute and warm alpaca wool socks for sale! 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!

 

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!