Tag Archives: puzzle

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!

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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!

Hurricane Florence: Evacuations and Safety

So things got a bit crazy this week. I’d been tracking Hurricane Florence for a while, but after Monday’s post, the Governor of Virginia issued an Order of Evacuation for people living in Zone A.  I live in Zone A and had already had an issue with flooding earlier over the weekend. SC and I were taking no chances. We had to hurry!

Thankfully, one of my best friends has a standing offer for us and the cats. We managed to pack all five cats, a tote-full of puzzles and coloring books, clothes, and the computers in under 10 hours. We did our best to place our electronics and valuables out of the way, but flooding is something that is really hard to predict.

Due to bunking down in my bestie’s sewing room and storm preparations, I don’t have any reviews written up. However, I do have a pair of unboxing videos of puzzles that are currently safe in the Tote of Doom! Please be kind, SC wasn’t able to run them through post-production.

Gearheads website

Artifact Puzzles website

So far, we are safe and warm. SC is making curry in the kitchen while it storms outside. I’ll be posting updates on Twitter as I know what is going on and how bad or not! the damages to our house are.

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!

Hidden Images Glow in the Dark Jungle Pride : A Puzzle Review

I normally wouldn’t have chosen this puzzle for myself. It’s a 500 piece, which is within my current ability, and the subject matter is cat-based…But Spouse-Critter (SC) fell in love with both the tigers and the idea of hidden images. I tend to shy away from both hidden images (the Magic Eye™ images give me vertigo) and glow in the dark ones. That being said, how could I tell SC no? He rarely steers me wrong.

 

I love how well protected the puzzle pieces are! IMG_3653

There were only a few hanging chads, and it’s obvious that the die stamp had gotten dull rather than a design flaw. The chipboard is made of recycled materials, and the pieces are of medium thickness.

 

I had a bit of trouble keeping the cats off my tigers! We did find that one of the images on the side of the box is meant to be seen when upside down, so you can use the box to store puzzle pieces and still see the image!

 

Once I had my frame in place, the assembly only took me a few hours, spaced out over some rainy days. The mix of standard and irregular pieces made for a great mental exercise. Matching stripes took what felt like forever!

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It came out so pretty!
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Low light glow
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It reallly glows!!!

It took some experimenting to get the glow to pop, those rainy overcast days hadn’t given off enough light. I got limited results with a led lantern, so SC went out and bought a black light bulb. Look at the glowy awesome!! The box says there are 16 tigers in the puzzle. I could only find 14, but as I mentioned before, I suck at finding hidden images. The ones I did find look amazing.

 

 

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: MasterPieces® Inc.
  • Title: Hidden Images Glow in the Dark Jungle Pride
  • Artist: Steve Read
  • Year released: 2017
  • Pieces: 500
  • Cut-Style: Grid-cut puzzle
  • Finished size: 15 x 21 in
  • Bonus poster: No
  • Made from recycled materials
  • Made in China

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Sturdy but lightweight, 8 x 8 inches
  • Board: Medium thickness, recycled chipboard
  • Cut: Cut with a steelcut die, very few pieces were not fully separated
  • Image Quality: Excellent, great color saturation
  • Finish: Slightly glossy with sandy texture where the glow in the dark ink is
  • Puzzle Dust: Minimal
  • Piece shapes: A good mix of traditionally cut and irregular pieces
  • Piece Fit: Very good, small clusters of pieces could be moved without falling apart

Where to buy: Hidden Images Glow in the Dark Jungle Pride” has been re-issued as a 550 piece puzzle and is available on the MasterPieces website for $12.99 USD.

MasterPieces 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!

Puzzle Preservation: Mod Podge

I love puzzles, I do. Puzzles are both brain-food and art. I love to assemble puzzles, but on their own, puzzles as art is ephemeral. Thus…Glue! There are now a ton of different ways to preserve a puzzle, and I’ll most likely do posts on them as I try them. But, when I grew up, the only option was glue.

I tried a few different brands until I found Mod Podge. I love this stuff! They have nearly a dozen variations now, but I tend to stick to either Matte or Satin. Satin is my go-to. It goes on smooth, and if I take my time, the brush strokes disappear.

Anyways, my process for gluing a puzzle is simple.IMG_3593

I assemble my puzzles on a piece of foam board. I cut out enough wax paper to cover the whole puzzle. Tape these together with a good bit of overlap on the edges.

Place the wax paper over the image side of the puzzle and top with a second foam board.IMG_3596

With the puzzle sandwiched in between the foam boards, flip it upside down.

Now it’s time for Mod Podge! Much like with painting, always keep a wet edge. Which means; once you start, you have to finish! I start by laying a thin line of Mod Podge the entire length of the top about 2 inches from the edge.

Using a paintbrush(I like these thick foam ones), spread the Mod Podge in an even layer with long strokes. Don’t worry, it starts white, but dries clear. Continue to add lines of Mod Podge and brush it across the puzzle until it is completely covered.

Then set it aside in a warm, dry place where it will not be disturbed. Because I have cats, this is usually my laundry room. It only takes about 20-30 minutes to dry, but I like to wait a day in between coats. I recommend at least 2 coats on the back and one on the front. To remove any stickiness, Mod Podge’s website recommends finishing with an acrylic urethane spray. I haven’t tried that yet, once I do, I’ll update this post with my opinion.

Disclosure: I bought the Mod Podge featured in this post. All opinions are my own.

Mod Podge™ is copyright http://www.Plaidonline.com

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!