Thursday, December 30, 2010

Believe It or Not...I am Still Here!

I know most of you probably think that I've given up on the puzzle and I'm never going to finish. However, that is not the case. I have not worked on it in months, that's true, but I am still thinking about it a lot and trying to figure out when I can get back to it again. I am hoping this weekend will be my first puzzling opportunity since September!

We have some friends coming over to celebrate New Year's with us and the wife really enjoys working on puzzles too so I'm hoping that we can get in some puzzling time while they're here.

I put off setting the puzzle up again due to various circumstances, including having the table top replaced, multiple dinner parties, Thanksgiving, and then Christmas.  I didn't want to set up for a couple of days and then have to take it down again multiple times so I figured leaving it up would just be easier.  But now that the holidays are over, I'm ready to get back into it full force.

Hopefully all the people who have been reading the blog up to the point where I last posted will remain with me and see that I haven't given up hope.

Okay, will post some pictures by the end of this weekend on some new progress.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Can You Teach a 6-month Old to Tell Time?

I'm trying to figure out a way to teach my 6-month-old son to know the difference between Mon - Fri and the weekend. LOL Doesn't he realize that if mommy stays up until 12:30 a.m. working on the puzzle that he should just automatically sleep until 8 a.m. even though he went to bed at 7:30 p.m. the night before? LOL I just don't understand why this is not happening - what am I doing wrong here? :)

Anyway, I had planned to work on the puzzle a little more this evening, but I am wiped out tired and ready to hit the sack.

Tomorrow may be a little tricky too for working on the puzzle. I have to make a key lime pie (a good one, not the typical ones you find in and then we're heading over to some friends for the afternoon.

Should be only a few more days on the balloons and then I can move on to the clown fish. I have decided to tackle those next rather than doing the animals first. I know they will be somewhat easier than the fish so I'd rather do the fish first and get them out of the way so that my last section will be easier.

Days 9 & 10: Real Progress

I finally feel like I've made a little bit of progress with the puzzle. I have been able to work on it for a couple of hours over the last two evenings after Derek has gone to bed. Most of the balloons are at least halfway completed now. Here's a couple of pictures from two nights ago.

A little bit of balloon detail:


The left side of this balloon was driving me nuts until I realized that I actually had two of the orange pieces upside down and in the wrong spot. Once I fixed that the left side of the balloon went together much easier...imagine that!

Day 10 Progress - Not a huge amount of difference other than the right side.

Close up of the right side:

Left side:


I'm hoping to get some time later today to work on it a bit more, but we'll see how that goes. Making tacos for dinner tonight with friends who are coming over this afternoon to watch a movie and have popcorn. Should be a fun day!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Weird Places to Find a Puzzle Piece - #1

I was able to do a little work on the puzzle yesterday and even had my first, but undoubtedly not my last experience with finding a puzzle piece in a strange place. I was downstairs working on the puzzle while Derek was taking a nap. Later on when he started crying to get up, I went upstairs, bent over the crib to pick him up, and found a puzzle piece right there inside his crib! I think it had just fallen off of me as I wasn't working on the puzzle prior to putting him down for the nap, and it was in a place where I would have easily seen it had it been there when I first put him down. It was really weird though. It must have been on my shirt or stuck to my arm and somehow made it all the way upstairs and into to his room before falling off.  Thankfully it fell where it did as it was easy to spot and not on the floor where I might not have noticed it for who knows how long.

I haven't made a lot of progress, but I do have more of the balloons done. I will be taking new pictures tonight or tomorrow morning and posting soon.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Day 8: A Change in Strategy - Not an Error in Math

No, there's nothing wrong with my math skills - I have decided to change my strategy as far as counting the days it takes me to do the puzzle. Prior to this post, I was counting each day as a new day in the overall total length of time I've had the puzzle, but then I realized that's kind of stupid since there are times when a week goes by without my even touching it. So today I figured out what day I would be on if I only counted the days where I actually worked on the puzzle. This will make my numbers much better looking and somehow not quite as sad as having to put that I'm on Day 33 already when I've just barely started doing the balloons. I'm still going to try and keep track of my hours though. I believe I am still at 13 puzzling hours since I haven't worked on the puzzle in over a week now due to various circumstances. I probably won't be getting to it again until Sunday, but hopefully that will be a day where I can make some decent progress since my husband will be home and can help take care of our son.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bigger Doesn't Always Mean Better

Here's a case where bigger does not always mean better. Ravensburger Puzzles (one of the big kahuna's in the puzzling industry) is about to release their response to Educa's current record holder (Life) for the World's Largest Puzzle. This new puzzle will be 30,000 pieces! But the major difference? This new puzzle is UGLY! Of course there will be those die hard puzzlers who will complete it not because they love the picture, but simply because it's going to be the new world record holder. I gaurantee I will never buy or want to make this puzzle. I do not like the picture at all, and if I don't like the picture there's NO WAY I would ever finish. It's going to be difficult enough to finish "Life" and I LOVE that picture.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Going to Try an Experiment

I'm going to try an experiment when I get my table back. As you can see in the pictures from previous posts, the puzzle barely fits the table width wise. The puzzle is about 42" x 60", and even though my table is 44" wide the last inch on either side slopes down slightly into a carved edge. So therefore the edge pieces on the puzzle are also slanting down. I am afraid I'm going to end up losing pieces this way so I'm going to try turning the puzzle 90 degrees so that the width of the puzzle is using the entire length of the table. It will easily fit that way and then I'll just have to keep the part of the puzzle I'm not working on at the time rolled up at one side of the table. I saw pictures of the people at Jigsaw Jungle (whom I bought the puzzle roll from) did this when they were making the puzzle and it seemed like it worked okay for them. I will just need to make sure my chairs are all the way up against the table so that the puzzle doesn't roll off the side and "crash."

Day 24: I Need My Table Back!

So I have not made any progress on the puzzle since Sunday because my dining room table is currently being used to hold all the china and glasses from my china cabinet. My husband and a friend of ours are supposed to move the china cabinet to another wall in our dining room so that I can do a large wall art project on the wall where it currently sits.

Hopefully it will get moved tonight so I can get back to puzzling! In the meantime, I did start doing a second round of sorting on the animals bucket to try and pull out the easily identifiable ones like the zebras and the giraffes. So at least I'm not completely at a standstill.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Day 22: Starting to Use the Puzzle Roll

This morning I placed the balloons that were mostly done onto the puzzle board. It was a good feeling to finally see some parts come together for the overall picture and actually attach some of it to the border. Yippee!!!

I still find it amazing how big some of the balloons are when you put them together, and how little space they take up in the overall picture.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Day 18: Seriously? That long already!

Like I said in my last post, I haven't been working on the puzzle too much lately.  I'm only averaging about 20 to 30 minutes a day since I finished sorting so I guess it's no surprise that I haven't gotten too far. However, I'm thoroughly enjoying the time I do get to spend. I'm still working on the hot air balloons, but I wanted to post some pics of my progress.

I have a few more hot air balloons started, but nothing too significant yet. Will post more pictures tomorrow hopefully. I have found a great spot to take pictures from. The landing on my staircase overlooks the dining room table and gives a good angle for taking shots of the entire table.

Total puzzling time to date (Day 18) is 10 hours.

I am still working on it!

Wow! I certainly haven't been keeping up the posts like I said I was going to on a daily basis. Oh well, I guess that's life with a five and a half month old. I haven't gotten to work on it much even when he's asleep because I want to try and spend at least a couple of hours with my husband in the evening before we go to bed.  I'm not trying to win any fastest finish contests anyway.  Maybe I should be going for the "Longest Time to Complete" record! :o)

Here's a couple of pictures of what 6,000 sorted pieces looks like...Yikes!

And here are a couple of pictures of the border as I was assembling it. It is now done with the exception of two or three pieces that I didn't catch in my initial sort. I'll find them later, I'm sure. I have been working on the hot air balloons and those have been fun. Next I will probably work on the clown fish. I think I have a few pics of the hot air balloons still on my camera that I haven't downloaded. I'll add those in a separate post in a bit.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 4: Sorting Finished!

I am happy to report that I have just finished sorting (first pass through anyway) the first section! Now I can actually start putting the puzzle together. Well that is once my son goes down for his next nap. I had literally just put the final pieces into their appropriate bucket when he started crying that he wanted to get up and be fed. LOL

My next task is to roll out the puzzle mat onto the dining room table and start putting together the border. I think I may also start working a little on the hot air balloons or the clown fish. I know the balloons will probably be a lot easier so maybe I should start with the clown fish and get them out of the way early.

Hmmm...decisions, decisions, decisions.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 3: Will I ever finish sorting?!

I now have close to 3,000 pieces sorted (half of the first section) into my buckets and I have decided that anyone who mixed all 24,000 pieces together before starting their sorting process is completely and certifiably NUTS! LOL

Sorting takes forever! I know in the end I will thank myself because I'll have a lot less pieces to look through later when trying to put together a particular picture element, but holy cow is it tedious work right now.

I want to try and keep track of my actual hours spent on this project so from this point forward I will close each day with my time spent for that day. To recap, before I forget, I have spent close to 4 hours sorting between Saturday and Sunday.

Day 1 (part 2) and Day 2: Sort, sort, sort

Well, I was able to do more sorting once my son went to bed Saturday night, but I didn't feel like I made all that much progress. I sorted maybe 1,500 pieces into my various buckets and then called it a night.

On Sunday we had company over in the afternoon to watch a movie in our recently completed media room. I was able to sort more pieces while watching the movie. (FYI -- The Informant is a big thumbs DOWN!!)

My initial sorting piles were anything clownfish in one, anything blue (like the underwater stuff or the sky) in another, the edge pieces, and pretty much everything else in the last pile. The last pile being a compilation of the animals, the hot air balloons, and anything I didn't know where else to put. When I sat down to start sorting on Sunday, I realized this last pile needed to be further broken down and refined, so I decided it would probably make more sense to pull out the hot air balloon stuff. Unfortunately, I made very little forward progress Sunday afternoon, but I did at least get the hodge podge bucket re-sorted.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Day 1: And the sorting begins....

I went to the Dollar Store today to buy buckets and baggies to assist in sorting the pieces.  When I got back, I cut open the first bag and began the ugly, but critically important task of sorting.  I was only able to spend about 20 minutes on it as Derek needed to be fed, but at least I did start. I will need to get more buckets though so I can further refine the sorting which will make it a lot easier for me later on. I am having so much fun already, and I've only spent a few minutes on it. I am hoping to get back to sorting a little later this evening after dinner with the in-laws and Derek is in bed.  Gotta get ready for dinner....going to JJ Fins.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pictures of "The Beast"

From this moment forward I think the puzzle will be referred to as "The Beast"! Holy Cow is that a big box of pieces!

I can't even begin to fathom the insanity of the people who actually open up each of the four bags, mix all the pieces together in the big box, and then proceed. If I had to search through 23,999 pieces just to find that one elusive edge piece I think I would have to shoot myself. I will be more than happy to take the easier way out and do the puzzle section by section. That in itself will be a huge accomplishment and good enough for me anyway.

Here are a couple of pictures of the individual bags as well as the poster that comes with the puzzle. This is meant as a reference point instead of trying to see the details from the small image on the box. I am going to try to laminate it tomorrow as I know this will get a ton of use.

It's Finally Here!!!

After much watching out the window and practically pacing the floor, the puzzle finally arrived a little after 6 p.m. tonight. I really thought it would have been earlier in the day, but at least it's here! And wow, the box really is heavy.  Somehow knowing that it's 28 pounds of puzzle pieces makes it feel so much heavier than your average package weighing 28 pounds. LOL

My next post will include the first set of pictures of the puzzle (probably the box itself.)  Will post it soon. Have to wait for my little one to go to sleep and then I can open it up.

Anxiously Awaiting Arrival

I thought about this puzzle and its arrival most of last night and the anticipation is killing me. I keep listening for the sound of the UPS guy to come around the corner so I can go out and attack him as soon as he steps out of the truck. (No puncture wounds, I promise!) I'm curious to see in person how big and heavy it is...a 28-pound jigsaw box has got to be pretty impressive.

Today I pulled out and opened my "Roll-O-Puzz" mat that I purchased about six months ago in anticipation of getting this puzzle at some point. It accomodates up to 6,000 pieces and is just barely big enough, dimension wise, to hold one section. These puzzle mats are the greatest invention since sliced bread to the puzzling world. It's so convenient to be able to work on a puzzle for a few hours or days then have the ability to roll it right up around the cardboard tube, and put it away when you need your dining room table back.  In the past this was always a problem for me when it came to completing puzzles because I would start it on the table, but inevitably I would need the table again before I was finished with the puzzle. Since I had no way to move it without ruining all my progress up to that point, I would end up having to take the puzzle apart.  At that point it became too much of a hassle to start the puzzle all over again so I would rarely ever finish one.  So a big thank you shout out to whomever invented the puzzle mat.  You rock!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

World's Largest Puzzle Website

Here's a link to the "Life" puzzle website so you can see for yourself the gorgeous picture and get inspired by the stories in the Hall of Fame. There are 100 stories - each one interesting in it's own way, but none more so than Daniel, the QUAD/TETRAPALEGIC who has very limited use of his hands.  Incredibly, he mixed up all 24,000 pieces and completed the puzzle on his own by licking the palm of his hand, picking up a piece, and placing it on the puzzle board!!!  If he can do it...I certainly have no excuse not to finish! What an inspiration!

Daniel's Hall of Fame story:

It's ordered...

So I guess I'm officially nuts! On Wednesday I ordered the World's Largest Jigsaw Puzzle (Guiness certified), and have since been anxiously awaiting its arrival. UPS promises me it will be here tomorrow and if they know what's good for them it will be here by late afternoon. :o)

Now you're probably wondering a couple of things - 1) Just how big IS the World's Largest Puzzle; and 2) What the hell are you thinking?! The first part is easy to answer. This puzzle, appropriately titled "Life: The Great Challenge", consists of a mere 24,000 pieces! And no, I did not make a typo and add too many zeros to that piece count. For those of you reading this who love numbers, here are a few more.  The actual size of the completed puzzle is 14 and 1/2 feet wide by 5 feet 2 inches tall! The box the puzzle comes in weighs about 28 pounds and is big enough to fit a 12-month-old baby (one puzzler posted a pic of his little girl sitting in the box.)  Too cute.  The puzzle is split into four bags of 6,000 pieces each. Each 6,000-piece bag is one quarter of the overall picture and measures approximately 42" x 60".  For me, dimensions alone necessitate working on the puzzle in sections rather than try to put it together as one big piece. Besides, while I do admit to being a little nuts for trying this, I'm not a complete glutton for punishment! :o)

The second question is a much more difficult one to answer, but I'll do my best. About a year ago I was doing some research on the internet for jigsaw puzzles. I have always loved doing them and wanted to get back into it again. I found several really large puzzles with counts well over 5,000 pieces, and I began to wonder - what's the biggest one out there? So I googled world's largest puzzle and found the Life puzzle and a really cool website dedicated to those amazing people who have completed it. I began looking at the website and THREE HOURS LATER I knew I had to get this beast. It is an incredibly beautiful picture. In doing the research, I found out it is a compilation of many different works by the artist, Royce B. McClure. The colors are so vibrant and the overall picture comes together so well that you can't help but get lost in it whenever you look. It has a little bit of everything - hence the title "Life" I guess, but all I know is I simply fell in love with the picture. However, it was the Hall of Fame section of the website that truly inspired me to want to put this together. There are stories from people all over the world who have conquered this enormous project. It was so much fun reading all the different stories and techniques (of which I am stealing several) of those who have come before me. I know I won't be setting any records for time or "first in whereever to complete", but I know I will have a ton of fun working on this. And most likely my 5-month-old son Derek will be old enough to help me before I get this thing finished so it could end up being a fun mother-son bonding thing. LOL

I started this blog to keep track of my progress and share it with family and friends. I will take lots of pictures and talk about the process as I'm doing it. My goal for Day 1 (tomorrow) will be to open the box, swoon, and laminate the poster it comes with to help put it together. I know I will be using the poster endlessly so I want to make sure it's stable enough to handle all the wear and tear it's going to get.

I am so excited! I cannot wait to get started...come on UPS man, bring me my box! :o)