Tag Archives: family time

Cherry Blossoms and Chickadees! A Springtime Review

Spring is finally officially here!! Huzzah!

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So pretty!

It’s silly, but Wednesday was both the first day of Spring and the start of the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC. I’ve never gone, but I have friends who hit it every year. This weekend I’m in Lancaster, Pennsylvania for Zenkaikon, an anime convention. Before I left, I started Cobble Hill’s Chickadeedeedees.  It’s a 500 piece puzzle featuring chickadees and cherry blossoms by the amazing Karen Latham.

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Pardon the warm tones, I was trying to reduce my night-time glare.

This is one of the new 2019 designs, and one of the rare puzzles SC insisted on. I’d never known that my spouse liked chickadees, but there he was, reading me the Wiki and listening to bird calls on YouTube. If you want an awesome video about chickadees, I recommend LesleytheBirdNerd’s video.

Honestly, I find it cute when he gets excited/inspired by something out of the ordinary. He listens to me explaining the difference between ribbon and random cut puzzles. By the way, this is very much a random cut puzzle! SC likes the random cuts, finding them to be a great mental challenge. “That piece doesn’t go there at that angle…Shit, yes it does!”

I mentioned that I started this puzzle, however, I didn’t manage to finish my assembly before having to leave. SC, bless him, took some of his spare time to finish it and gave me his analysis. He also did my amazing cover photo!

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Two thirds finished and yes, that’s a dice catalog in the corner.

I’d managed to do about 2/3rds of the puzzle, finding it to be of moderate difficulty. It’s a 500 piece puzzle, so the pieces are comfortably large and with a random cut, the placements are not always obvious. SC did the final third, noting that I had mistakenly placed a piece where it didn’t belong, so he spent a bit of time looking to place a piece that belonged in the space I’d filled.

His sorting style was thus: flowers first, then obvious leaves, then twigs, then oddball shapes, and finally the standard shaped pieces. He did say it was of moderate difficulty, and that a couple of pieces nearly achieved flight (he was frustrated and want to throw them across the room)! SC notes that the large piece size confused his eyes, but made his hands happy, and that the pieces fit and click in securely. Both of us liked the new small poster included with the puzzle that was printed with the same linen texture as the puzzle and that both puzzle and poster images matched!

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All done! I couldn’t have done it without my Spouse-Critter!

 

PUZZLE SPECS

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

QUALITY: 

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

Disability Notes: I can definitely recommend this for a teen, an adult, or for a person whose hands have good and bad days. SC and I both had fun, and the full assembly only took us roughly about 6 hours over 3 days. 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: Chickadeedeedees is available on the Cobble Hill website for $15.99 USD. It is currently out of stock, but it’s on order, which means there will be more made soon!

Cobble Hill Puzzle Company : Website / FaceBook

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

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

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25 Days of XMAS – Day 6

Today’s a little special, there will be a bunch of posts as I catch up from my cold earlier this week. The first one is featuring Zen Art & Design’s Peapod Puzzles series. Peapod puzzles are their children’s line, and I have to say …. They are really cool! I was sent three puzzles to share with my godsons, Minions 1 & 2.

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The boys were stooked to see me come over with new puzzles for them to try!

The third puzzle I’d assembled at home to get used to before helping the boys with theirs. I love the designing of the packaging! The embossed pea-pod is so minimalist it’s cute, and the boxes are easy to open and reuse.

My puzzle is the World Turtle, something that fans of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series are sure to recognize! It’s the flat disk of the world sitting on the back of four elephants which are in turn, standing upon the back of a gigantic turtle!  Peapod puzzles come in either 25or 53 pieces, which makes it easy to adjust any design for the age range of the child it is meant for!

World Turtle is a 25 piece puzzle, which comes with one whimsy, or as Zen calls them, figural.

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The boys worked on Sea Turtle 1 and T. Rex. My Minions had 53 piece puzzles, which come with four figurals apiece! They loved these! Once I showed them the technique to putting together a wooden puzzle, they had a blast assembling them. I had worried a little about the fact that there would be a squabble about who owned which, but the boys exclaimed over each others’ puzzles, assembled their own, then switched! For an 8-year-old and a 5-year-old, it was a miracle!

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All finished!

One nice touch I found with the Zen puzzles is that each of them comes with a small card letting you know who made your puzzle. It’s a great way to help the company track any errors and to also adds a personal feel to each puzzle!

 

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: Zen Art & Design
  • Title: Sea Turtle 1 / T.Rex / World Turtle
  • Artist: Unknown
  • Year released: 2018
  • Pieces: 53 /53 /25
  • Cut-Style:  Random
  • Finished size: 7½ by 7½ inches
  • Bonus poster: No
  • Made in USA

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Sturdy white  cardboard, 4 × 4 × 3¼ inches
  • Board: Birch wood
  • Cut: Laser
  • Image Quality: Excellent, great color saturation
  • Finish: Semi-gloss
  • Puzzle Dust: None!
  • 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.

Disability Notes: These are great puzzles for people who are bed bound using a lap desk or for those with failing mental capacity. While the Peapod series of puzzles are marketed to children ages 4-8, the artistry of these wooden puzzles is such that they will appeal to all ages!

Minion Notes: Minion 1 thought that the puzzles were great, and loved the figurals, but thought that paper-based puzzles were easier to disassemble. He really liked the fact that his herbivore dino figurals were hidden in the foliage of the T.Rex puzzle, while the carnivores were part of the Rex itself. He also noted that Minion 2 would not have been able to handle a 53 piece puzzle without an adult to help him. Minion 2 had fun learning the names of his figurals and pulled out the BIG DINO BOOK to figure out that the herbivores were a hadrosaurus and a parasaurolophus!

Where to buy: PeaPod Puzzles, which is the series of puzzles that Sea Turtle 1, T. Rex and World Turtles are from;  is available on the Zen Art & Design website, which is running a sale, for $19.99 USD.

Zen Art & Design : Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received complimentary puzzles from  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!

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!