Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Final Section - Progress Update

As most of you know, I started working on Section 4 in my family room while still finishing up Section 3 on the puzzle table in the basement.  Back in April I finally finished Section 3, but until today I had not had time to sit down there and flip the section over and put contact paper on the back.

Luckily, Cole took a long nap today, and Derek was willing to play in the basement while I worked to get the entire section flipped over and the contact paper added.  It took a while, and included one small puzzle mishap which cost me the re-work of about 40 pieces, but overall it didn't take too long.

After the kids went to bed, I immediately decided to take all my working boards with various subsections of the final quarter down to the basement and start laying it out on the puzzle board.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that once it was all laid out together, I had accomplished more than I thought.  :)

I would say at this point I am pretty close to the 50% mark for the section, which also means that I'm at around the 82.5% mark for completion of the entire puzzle.  WOOO HOOO!!!!  I'm gonna do it, I'm gonna do it!

Here are a couple of pictures...

Thanks for sticking with me - we're almost there!  :)

Monday, June 8, 2015

New Career Opportunity -- As a Puzzle Reviewer?

In mid-2013, I was given an opportunity by Artifact Puzzles to receive a free puzzle in exchange for reviewing it and saying something about my experience on the blog.  I was very skeptical at first having never experienced a company who wanted to send me something for free and not have some sort of ulterior motive for getting me to purchase the puzzle later.  What I didn't realize at the time was that this is becoming a more and more popular marketing trend with the rapid growth of social media.  This new strategy benefits both the manufacturer of the product and the blogger who gets free samples of items they would be likely to purchase on their own anyway.  So, once I learned that this was not some sort of a scam, I was elated to try my first "product review" and my first wooden puzzle.  You can click here to read about my review of The Messenger.

It was such a fun experience, and I loved the puzzle they sent.  Superb quality, and so much fun. Their customer service was excellent as well when I thought I had a missing piece after finishing the puzzle.  They immediately replaced the single piece at no cost, even after having sent me the initial puzzle for free too, and they were very nice about it.  Check out where the "missing" piece was finally found here!  :)

I didn't really give another thought to doing more of these types of reviews just figuring that it was a "right place at the right time" type of thing until about a week ago.  It was then that I was contacted by two more puzzling companies offering to send me one of their puzzles in exchange for a review on my blog.  I am shocked and honored to be popular enough in Google searches to be found and approached to do these reviews.  Stay tuned for more information on both of these puzzle reviews coming soon.

Wow!  Who knew being a puzzle momma could be so beneficial!  :)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Deal of the Century - Round Two

In preparation for writing this blog entry, I went back and looked at two older posts, Life After "Life" and A New York State of Mind where I mentioned a bunch of puzzles that I wanted to get and do after I finished the Life puzzle.  At the time I wrote the first one, back in May, 2013, I had none of the puzzles I mentioned wanting to get.  Now, just over two years later, I have all of them except two!  Wow...I didn't even realize I gotten that far in completing my wish list.

The puzzle that was highest on my wish list two years ago was the 18,000 piece Skylines of the World puzzle by Ravensburger. NOTE:  This was well before the 32,000 New York City Window was even announced for production

I had been looking for this puzzle for a year or two, and because it was out of print, I was having a very difficult time finding it for a reasonable price. Ebay prices were in the high $200 to $300 range, which I just could not justify.

Several people in the big puzzle Flickr group had completed the puzzle and stated that it was a lot of fun to do.  I saw several people's progress pictures of it, and I was drooling.  I didn't know how long it was going to take me to find a good price on this beauty, but I kept looking and looking and looking.  Then....

One of my puzzling friends from the big puzzle flickr group contacted me and said that he had two copies of the puzzle.  He had done his first copy only to find that one piece was missing.  So, he purchased a second one just to try and find the missing piece to complete his original.  As it turned out, the pieces were of a slightly different cut so it didn't match up!  What a bummer for him!  He decided that he was going to sell the "replacement" copy, and wanted to give me first crack at it!  He's such a nice guy.  He made me a deal I simply could not refuse. I got the puzzle which was essentially "new" as it had only one bag open (the bag that had the piece he needed for the other puzzle), and all others were still factory sealed.  The box wasn't in great condition, but other than that it was new.  At first I didn't think we were going to be able to work it out since he lives in the UK, and I knew the cost of shipping from there to me in Atlanta was going to be outrageous.  But, somehow by selling / buying it through Ebay, we were able to take advantage of some deeply discounted shipping rate.  So, he sold me the puzzle for $1 (well 1 GBP), and then all I had to pay for was shipping.  All in all, this big, gorgeous beast of a puzzle that I have been coveting for several years cost me a whopping $36!  LOL

I am so elated to have been given such an amazing deal, and I cannot thank Joey enough!  He is my puzzling hero right now!  :)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Deal of the Century - Round One

Since starting this blog, I have written a couple of posts regarding my stance on Ravensburger's 32,000 Double Retrospect which took the title of "World's Largest Puzzle"* away from Life: The Great Challenge in September, 2010.  As I stated in those posts, I really did not like the artwork on this new record holder AT ALL initially.  Then, as I started to see pictures of other people putting the puzzle together, including this great blog, it started to grow on me just a little bit.

At some point over the last few years, I decided that I would consider making this puzzle to sell or donate, but ONLY if I could get a really great deal on it somewhere.  It has been retailing for anywhere between $170 to $270, and because I wasn't in love with the image I knew that price was too steep for me.  I really didn't figure I would get it anytime soon, if ever, as there are just so many other large puzzles out there that I love so much more.  I knew I'd rather spend my puzzling money on those for sure.

Then, right before Mother's Day this year, the first "Deal of the Century" (more on the second one in a minute) opportunity presented itself.  I often do nationwide searches on puzzles that I'm interested in on Craigslist.  It's a great way to find used puzzles for a good price, but only if you can get the seller to be willing to ship to whereever you're located.  I have found this to work most of the time, but not always.  Some people are too nervous about using PayPal or they're just not interested in the hassle involved in boxing the puzzle up and then taking it somewhere to be shipped.  Anyway, in this case, I did my search, and I found someone selling a brand new, still factory sealed copy of Double Retrospect!  When I looked at the description and then the price, my eyes got big as saucers, but my head wait a minute!  This has to be some kind of Craigslist ad typo.  No one could seriously be selling this brand new puzzle for $25!!!  It had to be a mistake - $125 or $250, surely...

I immediately responded to the ad and flat out asked if the price was a typo or glitch of some sort. When I got a quick response back that it was indeed correct, I was elated.  Apparently her sister had given it to her as a sort of "gag" gift.  That was a mighty expensive gag, but who am I to complain?!  LOL  Anyway, I couldn't believe my luck...and better yet, she was willing to ship it to me in Atlanta, even though she was in California!  I just needed to pay for the puzzle and cost of shipping of course.  Unfortunately, due to the weight of this puzzle, a whopping 42 pounds, the cost of shipping from one side of the country to the other was pretty extravagant.  In the end, it was going to cost over $100 just for the shipping.  I still didn't love the puzzle THAT much!  So, I was beginning to think that this probably wasn't going to work since at that price it wasn't the great deal I was looking to get, but then another amazing thing happened....

The seller let me know she was going to be in the San Diego area for Mother's Day weekend!  Well, it just so happens that Randy's cousin Matt recently relocated from New York to San Diego. Hmmm...the cogs were turning at this point, and I thought, "Could this really work?"  So, I went back and forth with the seller and Randy's cousin to see if we could work out a way for him to meet up with her and get the puzzle and then store it for me until he made his next trip out this way, which I knew was going to be at the end of the year for the holidays.  So lo and behold, this is how I came to be the proud owner (though not yet possessor) of a brand new, factory sealed copy of Double Retrospect for only $25!!  YAY ME!  And a big shout out of thanks to the seller, and her sister!

*Editor's Note:  Double Retrospect has since been replaced as the World's Largest Puzzle by Educa's 33,600 piece Wild Life.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Finish Line is Within Reach


Wow, April really must be my month as I have completed each section of the puzzle in the month of April so far.  Though, I am truly hoping to break that pattern with section 4 as I really do not want to be working on this same puzzle a year from now.  As much as I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute I have spent with this beautiful beast, I am ready to move forward with something new.

Here are the current stats:

Section 3 - Completed April 27, 2015 (1 year, 14 days after start)
Section 2 - Completed April 13, 2014 (1 year, 11 days after start)
Section 1 - Completed April 2, 2013 (2 years, 8 months, 10 days after start)

It feels sooo good to know that I have completed 18,000 pieces so far and have only 1 missing piece. Of course that is very frustrating, but considering that this puzzle has seen the growth of one child from age 5 months to just over 5 years old, and the birth of a second child who is now 21 months old, and been through two major moves to its final assembly place in Cumming, GA, I am pretty grateful it's just the one piece.  :o)

Here are the lessons learned from this section:

1.  I have never been a fan of birds, but after completing this section with all the seagulls at the top, I can officially say, I HATE BIRDS!!!

2.  I still seem to save some of the hardest areas for last.  I am not sure why, but it seems to keep working out like that each time.  This time it was the seagulls, the dolphins, and the surface of the water.  By comparison, the surface of the water was far easier than either the birds or the dolphins.

3.  I think it's a wise idea to work on two sections in tandem.  Once the puzzle gets to a certain point, like more than 50% completed, it's very difficult to work on it without being in the puzzle room where the main board is located.  Since at that point most of what I'm doing is fill in work rather than a particular large section, it's hard to do that upstairs where I can hang out with my husband during the evening.  Otherwise, I'm in the puzzle room by myself which is nice sometimes, but doesn't allow me to spend any time with Randy.  So, by doing the last two sections in tandem, I was able to get started on Section 4 up in the family room on working boards while still continuing to work on Section 3 when I got opportunities to go down to the puzzle room.  I think I will likely use this strategy more and more in the future when the current section is at a point where I don't have any major areas left to put together, and it's down to just small groups of fill in areas like sky, mountains, or water, etc.  This strategy has given me a head start on Section 4 which I anticipate is already at about the 25% completion mark.  Not too bad for having finished Section 3 only a couple of hours ago, right?! Hee hee

4.  Did I mention that I hate birds?!  :)

5.  April is a good month for me - who knew!

And now for the pictures...

I don't know if I'm going to know what to do with myself when I finish Section 4, but I am sure looking forward to finding out!  Thanks for sticking with me all these years.  I can see the finish line coming into sight now.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The New Age of Television Shows - A Wait and See Approach

Remember the days when you always looked forward to the start of the new fall TV season every September?  The promise of new shows to get hooked on, and the good / bad characters you would soon come to love and love to hate each and every week?   I sure do.

Nowadays, I am almost afraid to start watching a new show when it first premieres because nine times out of ten, it's going to get cancelled somewhere within the first few episodes or at most, the end of the first season.

The big networks do not give new shows enough of a chance to catch on and gain an audience.  Think about Seinfeld which almost got cancelled within its first season due to low ratings.  Can you imagine your life now without having had Jerry, Elaine, Kramer, and George in your family room every week?  I can't!  It seems as though a show has to be in the top 3 ratings spot from DAY ONE in order to have a shot at making it, and God forbid it should drop from that pedestal within the first season or its most likely done.  For me though, what is infinitely worse is watching and liking a show from the get go, having it get cancelled, and then getting absolutely no closure to what you had been watching up to that point.  Sooo frustrating!

I can't even begin to recite all of the shows over the last five years that I have liked and have been cancelled without really giving it a fair shake.  Thank God for DVR's because these days I'm starting to let up to 10 episodes pile up before I bother watching the first one.  It has saved me a number of times from wasting what little free TV time I have these days.

I guess this is the new age of television, but it just makes me sad.

Chug, Chug, Chugging Away...

Holy Moly! How on earth did I get this far into 2015 and not post any updates on the puzzle blog?! There really is no excuse for my lack of blogging so I won't bore you with my litany of ready excuses. Instead I will just dive in and show you pictures of the latest status.

I have been able on occasion to work on Section 3 down in my puzzle room. Here is the current status of that section...

I have also been working on Section 4 upstairs in the family room while hanging out with my husband in the evenings. Here's the current status of the fourth and final section...

I really feel that 2015 is going to be "the year" that I FINALLY finish this puzzle! Section 3 is almost done, and I've gotten a pretty good start on Section 4 as you can see. This puzzle has certainly been a labor of love for the last 4.5 years, and I have loved every minute of it, but I am ready to be done with this one so I can move on to something new. I have so many more puzzles waiting for me that I am anxious to get started. Wish me luck...