Reviewing Sort and Save – Puzzle Piece Trays

I’m not always the most organized person. My life, house and project desk are always in some sort of chaos. Mind you, it’s a chaos that I have down to a science, so heaven help you if you touch it or god forbid CLEAN it. That being said, as my puzzles grow in difficulty, so does the amount of sheer space I need for all the pieces.

I’d been recommended puzzle trays before, but hadn’t had any real reason to try them. Until now. SC has told me that I’m getting an upgraded puzzle board for my birthday. Something that will take both 2000+piece and panoramic puzzles! I’ve been dying to try both of these, but not had a large enough work surface unless I wanted to use the floor of the office while exiling both the cats and the Spouse-critter. Not exactly feasible.

So when I reached out to MasterPieces, I made sure to request a set of their Sort & Save Puzzle Piece Trays. I kind of love that alliteration! 51695_box__66336-1519180977

Okay, so the package is pretty, but what about the actual trays?

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Not just for puzzle pieces! These were great when working a large brick kit!

Check these out! You get 6 trays of pink,yellow and blue(2 of each) made of a nicely sturdy plastic! I wouldn’t risk them in a dishwasher, but if necessary, these can be hand-washed with no problem! Don’t ask why I had to find this out, I have CATS!

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This is the best part other than the trays stackability, the trays interconnect! Really well, too! I could move the whole lot of them by just pushing or pulling the one nearest to me, or rotate them to work a different color.

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The unexpected good side I found to these was that I was able to keep my puzzling momentum even when I had to stack up the trays and half-done puzzle because of an evacuation. When we came home, I was able to pick up right where I’d left off. (In the words of Paul Harvy…”that’s another story”).

I’m pretty sure that when I order my first 2000 piece puzzle I’ll be ordering a second set of these awesome trays!

Rating: 5/5

Pros:

  • Great for organizing/separating puzzle pieces
  • Multiple craft uses
  • Interconnecting and stackable!

Cons:

  • I really wish these were just a little deeper, they barely fit a 1000 piece puzzle
  • For puzzles over 1000 pieces you will need 2 sets

Cost Analysis:

I know I’m not the only disabled person on a limited budget. At $14.99 a package, MasterPieces Sort and Save – Puzzle Piece Trays are a great deal. They’re reuseable, and as you can see from my pictures can lend themselves to many projects with small pieces.

Overall:

I solidly rate this product a 5 out of 5 and do recommend it for puzzlers who prefer to work in sections or have to maintain a tidy workspace, either due to kids, furkids or space restraints.

MasterPieces Sort and Save – Puzzle Piece Trays can be bought here.

MasterPieces: Website/FaceBook

Disclosure: I received a complimentary puzzle and glue sheets 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!

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LEGO® Elves The Capture of Sophie Jones

Today’s post is a little different. I’m not doing a review or a tutorial. I’m assembling a LEGO® kit because my kid sister asked me to. I’ll warn you, this is a long video, clocking in at a little over an hour-long and I ramble throughout.

TL:DR  Hi! Columbus Day, my 9-year-old sister chose the topic and I hate stickers when assembling brick kits.  

I like the LEGO® Elves series for their designs, and knew there was a mini-movie on Netflix. It wasn’t until I was researching this kit that I found out that LEGO® has a whole series of webisodes hosted on YouTube. The webisode that explains this kit is here.

 

Overall, I had fun with this kit and will continue to collect LEGO® Elves and being silly while doing so!

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Disability Note: This was done on a really good day and I fully subscribe to the philosophy that growing up is OPTIONAL! A reasonable amount of silliness can stave off depression and pain.

Where to buy: At the time of this post,  LEGO® Elves 41182 The Capture of Sophie Jones is listed as Retired on the LEGO® website. However, I have seen it listed for sale on both Amazon and Ebay.

Special Shout-Outs: Hani DeFalco and Thomas Blackington. You two rock!

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

Disclosure: I purchased this product for review. 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!

Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep: Crown of Shards #1 Review and Giveaway

Being a newbie blogger, I was really surprised to be chosen for Jennifer Estep’s Blog Tour. I mean, sure, I’d applied for it, but never really thought I’d be chosen. In this, and in many other ways, I have a lot in common with Evie, the protagonist of Kill the Queen.

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Released: October 2, 2018
Series: Crown of Shards #1
Published by Harper Voyager
Pages: 480
Format: eARC

This is the blurb on the back:

The thrilling first novel in the Crown of Shards epic fantasy series combines magic, murder, and adventure when an unlikely member of the royal family suddenly becomes a contender in a clash for the crown . . .

In a realm where one’s magical power determines one’s worth, Lady Everleigh’s lack of obvious ability relegates her to the shadows of the royal court of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. Seventeenth in line for the throne, Evie is nothing more than a ceremonial fixture, overlooked and mostly forgotten.

But dark forces are at work inside the palace. When her cousin Vasilia, the crown princess, assassinates her mother the queen and takes the throne by force, Evie is also attacked, along with the rest of the royal family. Luckily for Evie, her secret immunity to magic helps her escape the massacre.

Forced into hiding to survive, she falls in with a gladiator troupe. Though they use their talents to entertain and amuse the masses, the gladiators are actually highly trained warriors skilled in the art of combat, especially Lucas Sullivan, a powerful magier with secrets of his own. Uncertain of her future—or if she even has one—Evie begins training with the troupe until she can decide her next move.

But as the bloodthirsty Vasilia exerts her power, pushing Bellona to the brink of war, Evie’s fate becomes clear: she must become a fearsome gladiator herself . . . and kill the queen.

Exciting, right??

Wrong! This is MORE than exciting.  Kill the Queen is honestly one of the best series starters for an epic fantasy series I’ve read in long time.  Jennifer Estep has built a world of magic and intrigue that is chock-full of characters with lovable or irritating quirks, countries and countrymen that have proud cultures and traditions and a heroine who wants to be anything but!

Evie finds she has to reinvent herself yet again, and choose whether to risk herself for friendship, for country and for love. Evie is relatable, snarky, loving and occasionally mischievous in just the right blend. Jennifer Estep has a fantastic talent for writing characters who are REAL. Whose plight moves you along until you are as much a part of the story as they are.

I’ll admit to reading this book twice already, and will most likely read it again before too long. For anyone who wished Game of Thrones wasn’t quite so bloody, but also loved The Princess Bride, Kill the Queen will be sure to please!

If you are like me, and pulling a Fry…

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Futurama is Copyright 20th Century Fox and Matt Groening

 

Purchase at:
Barnes & Noble: https://goo.gl/iaQ3Rc
Books-a-Million: https://goo.gl/udDZUa
Google Play: https://goo.gl/nQquEg
And if you’re like me and love signed copies:
Now I know I’m on the tail end of this Tour, but there are 3 more days to sign up to win!
Giveaway: 
Win a $25 Amazon gift card! Contest runs Sept. 17 until October 7. Rafflecopter code is below:
About the Author:
 jennifer-estep Jennifer Estep is a New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author who prowls the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea. In addition to Kill the Queen, Jennifer is also the author of the Elemental Assassin, Mythos Academy, Black Blade, and Bigtime series. 
For more information on Jennifer and her books, visit www.jenniferestep.com or follow Jennifer on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter. You can also sign up for her newsletter.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary ebook from the publisher 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!

Life reminds us that some things only depart for a while

Greetings All!

TL:DR – SC had to medicate PuzzlePaws for pain, so the next post will be late.

SC here, PuzzlePaws is feeling a touch under the weather.  She had an ambitious post planned and was about halfway through the initial filming when her knee (which has almost NEVER been a problem before) declared that now was a good time to report Level 9+ pain for no reason (i.e. injury, impact, weather, etc).

She tried to tough it out and “walk it off” with only OTC painkiller and a muscle relaxer, but the knee wasn’t having any of it (9 -> 7).  I caught her at it, dosed her with Rx painkillers, and sent her to bed for the rest of the day.

At this point, PuzzlePaws can’t string two words together and is grumpily sleeping.  She should be fine in a couple of days (or in less pain).

Chronic diseases are like this.  You’ll get some periods of time where the symptoms are tolerable to non-existent, and then…WHAM! Level 9-10+ pain.  You can’t work through the pain, because it is ALL you can think about.  When you medicate the pain, you can’t work because the medications steal your brains.  (For reference, PuzzlePaws’ pain tolerance is about 2-3x higher than a bog-standard human’s.  A “9” on her scale would put most people (likely unconscious and/or vomiting)  in the hospital.)

Posts from me will be rare (other than the occasional snarky edit here and there). I will be posting how-to videos on the Patreon (and occasionally here) when I have the time.

Ciao, SC

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!

Memory’s Wake, Mermaids, Fairies and Faedorables…Oh My! Reviewing Selina Fenech

I’ve been a fan of Selina Fenech’s since 2001. Yeah, I’m ancient, I know. I spent entirely too many hours in my college’s computer lab hunting down art to color for my weekly D&D group. When I started PuzzlePaws, I knew I wanted to try to contact some of those artists I fell in love with seventeen years ago.

I got lucky, Selina sent me two of her coloring books to review, and both are very different from the mermaids and fairies that are the backbone of her style.

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Yes, these are different sizes. I’ll get to that.

Firstly is Victorian Romance. Now, there are actually two different versions of this coloring book, one in line art, the other in grayscale. This coloring book is based off of illustrations that Selina did for her Young Adult Fantasy Trilogy, The books are Memory’s Wake, Hope’s Reign, and Providence Unveiled. I haven’t read them (yet!), but all are available through Selina’s website and Amazon.

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Look at this! No-one does a coloring book where you can color men’s outfits! And the background is so complex!

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I think I love this coloring book because you don’t have to have read the source material to get a sense of the characters, and the level of detail feeds my desire to color intricate outfits. Both sexes are given great scenes to color, and the romance is sweet, not tawdry.

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I had too much fun coloring this. SC requested the pink hair after I’d done the purple.

The really cool thing in the Victorian Romance Coloring book is that while there are only 25 images; the book is split into halves, and the second half is a set of duplicate images so that you can do each image twice! So if you have a cat-induced coffee accident, or want to see the same image done in a different medium, you can! Each image is single-sided, but if you want to use a wet medium like markers or watercolors, I and Selina both recommend using a protective backing of cardstock.

Now, for the second little book I got!

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Yup! It’s time for Faedorables!

Selina has a line of what she calls “Minis”, coloring books that measure 5 by 7.8 inches. These are meant to be a more portable version of her standard 8.5 by 11 inches coloring books. I’ll admit, I was leery of these minis. I know her art is good, but how would it look or color when shrunk down?

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Okay, they look really cute!

The Faedorable series is meant to be a mix of simple, sweet art with some tricky details, enough to appeal to a range of colorists of all ages. The book I have is actually all 50 images of both the Faedorables:Sweet and Simple and Faedorables:Cute and Creepy books. The images are single-sided and with a cardstock backing took both marker and crayon really well!IMG_4261

I was skeptical, I was worried, I was wrong! The mini-books are fantastic! I’m going to keep mine in my Go-Bag, which is my backpack full of entertainment gear for traveling. If you have a love of coloring and either a Go-Bag or a hospital bag, you might want a Mini coloring book and a pack of whatever your coloring medium of choice is.

Honestly, the last few days have been full of fatigue for me, my CFS was flaring, I thought…until SC and I found out that while at DragonCon we were exposed to a Vendor who came down with Chicken Pox. I’ve had Chicken Pox, but SC hasn’t. SC thinks that due to busting my rump at DragonCon, then dealing with Hurricane Florence, and all the resulting stress, that I’ve managed to have a Mononucleosis relapse. It’s possible, I’ve been sleeping tons, but waking to feel more tired. I’m hydrating and resting (coloring is resting, right?).

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Hurricane is my blanket-buddy. She gets how I feel!

 

Where to buy: You can buy Victorian Romance at Selina Fenech’s website for $11.33 USD. You can also buy Faedorables Minis there for $7.54 USD

Selina Fenech Art : Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received these coloring books for free in exchange for a review. The opinions are my own. All art shown on this post is Copyright © Selina Fenech. 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.

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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!

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